January 18, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Constitutionality of involuntary blood tests questioned
The United States Supreme Court will decide this year whether or not law enforcement needs a warrant before they can require a suspected drunk driver to submit to an involuntary blood test. The Court is reviewing a Missouri case, Missouri v. McNeely, and its decision may seriously impact a person's Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Facts ofMissouri v. McNeely
In the McNeely case, a Missouri state trooper pulled over Mr. McNeely for speeding. During the traffic stop, the officer began to suspect that McNeely was driving while under the influence of alcohol. He asked Mr. McNeely to perform field sobriety tests. Mr. McNeely performed poorly on the field sobriety tests and was asked to submit to a breathalyzer, which he refused. The officer transported him to a medical clinic and directed the staff to take his blood without his permission. The blood test confirmed that Mr. McNeely was in intoxicated.
Mr. McNeely filed a motion to suppress the blood test results, arguing that the officer violated his Fourth Amendment rights by failing to obtain a search warrant before directing the clinic to take a blood test.
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects Americans from unlawful searches and seizures. This means that police cannot search you, your home or your vehicle, without permission unless they have acquired a warrant. In the McNeely case, the trial judge agreed that the involuntary test infringed on Mr. McNeely's constitutional rights and barred the evidence from the trial.
The prosecutors appealed the decision to the Missouri appellate courts, arguing that the officer was justified in obtaining the blood test because waiting for the warrant would have meant losing valuable evidence. The Missouri Court of Appeals agreed with the prosecution and reversed the trial court's decision. The Missouri Supreme Court reviewed the case and reversed the appellate court, holding that law enforcement does need a warrant before administering an involuntary blood test.
The Missouri courts are not the only ones that have come to divergent decisions on this issue. States across the nation have come to different results. Minnesota, Oregon and Wisconsin have held that warrantless blood tests are not a Constitutional violation. Courts in Utah and Iowa, on the other hand, have held that law enforcement needs more than just the fear that evidence will be lost to infringe on a person's right to be free of searches and seizures. Arizona courts have not ruled on the issue. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments early this year.
Being charged with driving under the influence is serious and a conviction can result in harsh penalties. A person who is charged with driving under the influence should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Article provided by Horan Law Offices, P.C.
Visit us at http://www.horanlawoffices.com---
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