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