The U.S. Supreme Court decided in early October to review laws that allow law enforcement to draw blood from a suspected drunk driver without a search warrant.
Many states have implemented mandatory blood test measures as part of their implied consent laws in attempt to curb their high numbers of accidents involving alcohol. The U.S. Supreme Court decision will determine whether or not these involuntary tests are in violation of people’s Fourth Amendment rights.
The review comes after a Missouri case in which a man was pulled over for erratic driving in his car and refused to take a breathalyzer test. The police officer then drove him to a lab to have the suspect’s blood drawn, without trying to obtain a warrant first.
The man was found to be drunk and was arrested, but the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the blood test was not admissible. Missouri prosecutors, however, were not satisfied with the judgment and are seeking further action in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Missouri prosecutors believe police don’t have enough time to get a search warrant because of the short amount of time it takes alcohol to dissipate from the bloodstream.
Many states have different laws regarding when an officer can or cannot force a suspected impaired driver to submit to a blood test. About half of the fifty states have laws against enforcing mandatory blood tests, while others do not even require a search warrant, Missouri being one of them.
The U.S. Supreme Court last ruled on this issue in 1966. In that decision, the court said the warrant requirement didn’t apply in the case of a man whose blood was drawn in a hospital about two hours after he was involved in an automobile accident. The court said that case involved “special facts.”
This time around if the Supreme Court finds the activity in violation of the Constitution, it will affect current and future laws of this kind across the country. The case will be heard at some point between now and June of next year.
What’s your opinion? Do you think police officers should be allowed to draw blood from suspected drunk drivers?