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SCOTUS Requires Warrant for Blood Draw

Clarkston Legal June 25, 2016

Earlier this week, the United States Supreme Court, in an 7-1 decision, held that states could not sanction suspected drunk drivers for refusing a warrantless blood draw. Breath samples can still be taken from a driver, however, without a warrant.

The High Court recognized the tragic toll drunk drivers impose on our society in every state. 20 states have laws on the books that sanction drivers under implied consent laws for refusing both blood draws and breath tests.

All states have implied consent laws. When we put our vehicles on the road, we consent to allow police to administer breath tests.

Concluding that blood draws are more intrusive to our privacy rights, the Court held that a warrant is now required prior to taking a blood sample. Breath tests, however, are deemed no more intrusive than “blowing-up a party balloon.”

Most often, police resort to a preliminary breath test when seeking to establish probable cause to effectuate a drunk driving arrest. The [inadmissible] preliminary breath test and the more reliable datamaster breath test are utilized in most cases.

When a driver refuses such a test, however, the officer is forced to resort to the more intrusive blood draw. In this scenario, many officers will obtain a warrant for the blood draw on the way to the hospital.

Time is ticking away in the blood draw scenario. The longer it takes to obtain a blood sample, the more alcohol is being eliminated from the driver’s body.

This case will have an interesting impact on drivers suspected of being high. Unlike drunk driving, driving under the influence of drugs requires a blood draw every time; breath tests are not yet available for such testing.

If you or a family member have been arrested and charged with a driving under the influence offense, contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation.