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DUI Case Sheds Light on Blood Tests Ordered Without a Search Warrant

The Supreme Court heard a DUI case on January 9 about a disputed blood test, which took to task the practice of police routinely forcing drunk driving suspects to undergo a blood alcohol test without first at least attempting to obtain a search warrant from a judge. Drunk driving is a serious problem in the …

The Supreme Court heard a DUI case on January 9 about a disputed blood test, which took to task the practice of police routinely forcing drunk driving suspects to undergo a blood alcohol test without first at least attempting to obtain a search warrant from a judge. Drunk driving is a serious problem in the United States, with 10,000 alcohol-related traffic deaths occurring in 2010 alone. However, this is no excuse to violate the Constitutional rights of a suspected drunk driver in Oklahoma. If you have been arrested for drunk driving in Oklahoma, and you think your rights were violated in the process, contact our reputable DUI defense attorneys at Oklahoma Legal Center to build a strong defense in your case.

Missouri Man Forced into Blood Test Without Warrant

In the case presented to the Supreme Court on January 9, Tyler McNeely of Missouri, a man with two prior DUI convictions, was stopped by police for speeding and swerving, and refused to submit to a breath test to measure the amount of alcohol in his system. McNeely failed several field sobriety tests, and the arresting officer reported that the man was unsteady on his feet and that his speech was slurred. Although the officer seemingly had enough evidence to get a search warrant for a blood test, he chose not to and instead drove McNeely to a hospital where a technician drew blood from the handcuffed suspect. Although McNeely’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was .154% – well over the .08% legal limit – the Missouri Supreme Court upheld a lower court order that threw out the results of the blood test on the grounds that the test violated the Constitution’s prohibition against unreasonable search and seizures.

Fourth Amendment Prohibits Warrantless Blood Tests

Under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, “evidentiary items as fingerprints, blood, urine samples, fingernail and skin scrapings, voice and handwriting exemplars, conversations and other demonstrative evidence may be obtained through the warrant process or without a warrant where ‘special needs’ of government are shown.” Pursuant to the Fourth Amendment, and supported by the state high court in the Missouri DUI case, police are required to obtain a search warrant from a judge to take a suspect’s blood, except when a delay could threaten a life or destroy potential evidence. In fact, about half the states in the U.S. already prohibit warrantless blood tests in all or most suspected DUI or DWI cases. “One of the things that I think affects the view in this case is it’s a pretty scary image of somebody restrained, and, you know, a representative of the state approaching them with a needle,” said Chief Justice John Roberts.

Our DUI Defense Attorneys Can Help

All 50 states have measures in place known as implied-consent laws, requiring drivers arrested on suspicion of drunk driving to consent to a blood alcohol test. In Oklahoma, if a suspected DUI offender refuses the test, he or she will be subjected to a penalty consisting of a fine and automatic driver’s license suspension. For a DUI conviction, a person could face significant jail time, hefty fines, participation in an alcohol treatment program, mandatory use of an ignition interlock device, and more. If you are facing drunk driving charges in Oklahoma, don’t leave your future up to chance. Consult our DUI defense lawyers at Oklahoma Legal Center for qualified legal help.

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