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Supreme Court rejects DUI blood tests without warrant

New York residents may be interested to hear that the Supreme Court ruled that DUI blood tests administered without a warrant may not be considered in court rulings. Furthermore, it decreed that police usually must attempt to obtain a search warrant from a judge before ordering blood tests for suspects of drunk driving.

The verdict stemmed from the case of a Missouri man who was subjected to a blood test without a warrant. The man was arrested in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri, on a charge of drunk driving after a state trooper stopped his car for swerving and speeding. The man had two previous drunk driving convictions and refused to submit to a blood alcohol test. He failed numerous field sobriety tests, and the arresting officer said that his words were slurred and that he was very unsteady on his feet. 

There seemed to be enough evidence for the officer to get a search warrant. However, he chose not to, instead driving the man to a hospital where his blood was drawn, and he was handcuffed throughout the process. The man's blood level was found to be nearly twice the legal limit for driving with alcohol in the blood.

The Obama administration and the state of Missouri appealed to the Supreme Court to employ a blanket rule that would allow the admission of the blood tests without a warrant. However, eight of the nine justices sided with the Missouri man, indicating that warrantless blood tests do violate constitutional rights.

The Supreme Court's decision in this case can affect the outcome of DUI charges all across the nation since the admission of BAC levels is oftentimes a key determinant factor in the outcome of DUI cases. In New York, people facing DUI charges might want to consider seeking the counsel of DUI attorneys who may help them understand their rights and options.

Source: NPR, "Court rejects routine no-warrant DUI blood tests," April 17, 2013 

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