Click Here for Free Consultation

Supreme Court Backs Warrants For Blood Tests In DUI Cases

The US Supreme Court has ruled that police must generally obtain a warrant before subjecting a drunken-driving suspect to a blood test. The vote was 8-to-1, with Justice Clarence Thomas the lone dissenter.

Tyler McNeely was pulled over late at night after a state trooper observed him driving erratically. When McNeely refused to take a Breathalyzer test, the officer drove him to a local hospital and ordered blood drawn for an alcohol test. The officer did not seek a warrant, even though he had done so in previous cases. The state of Missouri contended that because alcohol naturally dissipates in the bloodstream, each passing moment means valuable evidence is being lost, and so a warrant is never required for a blood draw.

The Supreme Court disagreed, noting that in most circumstances there is adequate time to get a warrant. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing for the majority, said that in the modern world of technology, police can often obtain a warrant quickly by using their cellphones or by email, and that in most jurisdictions a magistrate is available at all hours to grant a warrant request.

If an emergency requires officers to dispense with the warrant requirement, Sotomayor said, that determination must be made on a “case-by-case” basis and later justified in court. In addition, she noted, because officers must typically take a suspect to a hospital for the blood draw, some delay and some dissipation of alcohol is “inevitable.”

Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito, wrote separately, agreeing in part with the majority but taking a different approach. They said that the natural dissipation of alcohol in the blood does not necessarily justify forgoing a warrant, but said that law enforcement officials need clearer rules and guidelines for when they are out in the field. They would have given the law enforcement officer greater discretion.

In dissent, Justice Thomas agreed with Missouri that the natural dissipation of blood alcohol constitutes an emergency that exempts law enforcement officers from the general requirement of a warrant.

Comparison Questions to Ask When Hiring a Lawyer

Request a Free Consultation

Fill out the form below to recieve a free and confidential intial consultation.

Click here for important legal disclaimer.


CURRENT/PAST ASSOCIATIONS & AWARDS


10.0 Superb Rating AVVO Criminal Defense

10.0 Superb Rating
AVVO Criminal Defense

AV-Highest Rated Preeminent Lawyers Martindale-Hubbell

AV-Highest Rated Preeminent Lawyers
Martindale-Hubbell


Life Member
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Super Lawyer Criminal & DUI Defense

Super Lawyer
Criminal & DUI Defense

Ranking Arizona

Voted #1 (2020)
Ranking Arizona

Nation's Top 1% Attorney National Association of Distinguished Counsel

Top 1% Attorney
National Association of Distinguished Counsel

Top 100 Trial Lawyers (Criminal Defense) American Trial Lawyers Association

Top 100 Trial Lawyers
(Criminal Defense)

American Trial Lawyers Association

Top 10 DUI/DWI Law Firm American Institute of DUI / DWI Attorneys

Top 10 DUI/DWI Law Firm
American Institute of DUI / DWI Attorneys

Client Satisfaction Award American Institute of DUI / DWI Attorneys

Client Satisfaction Award
American Institute of DUI / DWI Attorneys

Top 100 Lawyer American Society of Legal Advocates

Top 100 Lawyer
American Society of Legal Advocates

Member National College for DUI Defense

Member
National College for DUI Defense

Top 10 Attorney National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys

Top 10 Attorney
National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys

Charter Member Trial Masters

Charter Member
Trial Masters

Member DUI Defense Lawyers Association

Member
DUI Defense Lawyers Association

Lifetime Charter Member Best Attorneys of America

Lifetime Member
Best Attorneys of America

Member American Bar Foundation

Member
American Bar Foundation

Sustaining Member Arizona Trial Lawyers Association

Sustaining Member
Arizona Trial Lawyers Association

America's Top 100 Criminal Defense Attorneys

Member
America's Top 100 Criminal Defense Attorneys

Member American Association for Justice

Member
American Association for Justice

Life Member Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice

Life Member
Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice

Superior DUI Attorney National Advocacy for DUI Defense

Superior DUI Attorney
National Advocacy for DUI Defense

Superior DUI Attorney National Advocacy for DUI Defense

2019 Litigator of the Year
(Criminal Law)

American Institute of Trial Lawyers

Member Since 1989 American Bar Association

Member Since 1989
American Bar Association

DUI Expertise

Best DUI Lawyers in Phoenix
Expertise

Call Now Button