March 22, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Supreme Court to rule on requirement of warrant for DWI blood tests
If you are pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated (DWI), is it necessary for the police officer to get a warrant to force you to take a blood test? The United States Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in a case that will decide this very issue, Missouri v. McNeely.
What happened in the case?
The case arose when Tyler McNeely was pulled over for speeding in October 2010 near Cape Girardeau, Missouri. During the course of the stop, the highway patrol officer found reason to suspect that McNeely was intoxicated. When the officer administered a set of field sobriety tests, McNeely failed them.
Since McNeely failed the sobriety tests, the officer requested him to submit to a breath test, which he refused. The officer then drove McNeely to a hospital and asked him to take a blood test, which he also refused. Without first getting a warrant, the officer ordered hospital staff to draw McNeely's blood against his will (and over his objections).
The blood test showed that McNeely's blood alcohol level was about double the legal limit. He was then arrested and charged with DWI
Before McNeely's trial, his attorneys asked the court to exclude the results of the blood test from evidence, because the blood sample had been taken without a warrant. The trial court sustained the motion, but was reversed on appeal by the appeals court. However, the Missouri Supreme Court agreed that it was necessary to get a warrant before forcing McNeely to take a blood test. Prosecutors then appealed the decision to the United States Supreme Court.
How the Supreme Court will rule will probably depend on how it interprets its own 1966 opinion. In this opinion, the court decided that police officers should get a warrant before taking a blood sample, except in a few emergency situations--called exigent circumstances. The State of Missouri argued that because alcohol dissipates in the bloodstream, officers were entitled to take blood without a warrant, because any delay would lead to the destruction of evidence (and thus an exigent circumstance).
However, at oral argument, the justices seemed skeptical of Missouri's arguments. The questions the court asked Missouri's attorneys seemed to indicate that the justices believe that blood tests are intrusive and thus can only be taken if the suspect gives permission or if there is a warrant. The court's decision is expected later this spring.
Consult an attorney
Even if McNeely prevails, it would not change the fact that, in many Texas counties, police routinely have "no refusal" weekends where a judge is on hand to issue warrants compelling DWI suspects to submit to a blood test. However, a warrant is always issued in such cases, so the McNeely decision will not likely affect the legality of these enforcement efforts.
If you have been accused of DWI, you face a significant loss of rights and heavy financial penalties. It is important to seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help ensure the best possible outcome.
Article provided by Rush & Gransee, L.C.
Visit us at www.southtexaslawfirm.com/CM/Custom/TOCCriminalDefense.asp---
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