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U.S. Supreme Court rules against warrantless blood tests for DUIs

On Behalf of | Apr 30, 2013 | Blood Alcohol Tests |

The U.S. Supreme Court has recently ruled that police will in most cases need to obtain a search warrant before blood tests can be ordered for any individual charged with a drunken driving offense. Prosecuting attorneys and law enforcement officers maintain that the alcohol in the bloodstream would dissipate and disappear over time, and requiring a search warrant following a DUI arrest would result in delays in having the blood drawn.

Justice Sotomayor, who wrote the majority opinion, acknowledged that such an argument existed, but the concerns of allowing invasive blood tests to be administered without a warrant trumped any of the prosecutor’s arguments. The Supreme Court thus upheld the lower court’s decision that such warrantless blood tests would be considered unreasonable searches and seizures in violation of the federal constitution.

We will have to wait and see how Denver city officials will deal with the court’s ruling.  While blood tests without warrants have been conducted in many states, the Supreme Court Justices appeared united in the making of this decision.  There was only one dissenting judge out of the nine.

This ruling is not the end of the controversy.   Because of this decision, law enforcement officers and prosecuting attorneys in Colorado will likely come up with some other means for the quick obtaining of warrants for blood tests.   Still, this ruling creates one more hurdle that arresting officers will need to take before subjecting individuals to this type of testing. 

We will need to see what the justices do next.  Justice Kennedy, in a concurring opinion, suggested that we can look forward to another Supreme Court decision on this matter sometime in the future clarifying what steps prosecutors can take. 

Source: Source: WCSC Live 5, “Court rejects routine no-warrant DUI blood tests,” April 17, 2013