Forced Blood Test in Drunk Driving Case Gets Court Review | | Greg Stohr | 9/25/12

English: Breathalyzer Vending Machine by Alco-...

English: Breathalyzer Vending Machine by Alco-Checkpoint (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the case of Missouri v. McNeely, 11-1425, the U.S. Supreme Courtwill consider and rule in the nine-month term that starts in October 2012. The Court will decide whether police must get a search warrant before forcing a drunken driving suspect to have blood drawn, accepting a case that will shape privacy rights on the road.

The justices today said they will hear Missouri’s contention that the Constitution doesn’t require police to take the time to get judicial approval given how quickly alcohol dissipates in the bloodstream. The Missouri Supreme Court disagreed, saying officers typically must seek a warrant.

McNeely was pulled over for speeding in 2010 by a state highway patrolman in southeast Missouri and refused to take a breath test after failing field sobriety tests. The officer then took McNeely to a nearby medical laboratory, where a technician drew blood over the suspect’s objection.

The Supreme Court last ruled on the 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.”

The high court in other rulings has said police don’t need a warrant in situations of “exigent circumstances,” as when evidence is about to be destroyed.


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Center City Philadelphia General Practice Law Firm with emphasis on Criminal Defense, Family Law, Immigration, Real Property, and Wills/Trusts/ Estate Planning. Licensed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
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