October 27, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/
-- The United States Supreme Court has recently agreed to hear a case that will have a profound effect on those who are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol nationwide. The issue at stake is whether individuals that have been stopped on suspicion of drunk driving have a Fourth Amendment protection against forced blood tests.
The case, Missouri v. McNeely, began when a Missouri highway patrol officer pulled over Tyler McNeely for speeding. During the stop, the officer claims that he recognized signs that McNeely might be intoxicated. The officer asked McNeely to step out of the car and submit to field sobriety tests
, which McNeely performed poorly. At this point, the officer asked McNeely to submit to a blood test.
When McNeely refused the blood test, the officer took him to a clinic and instructed a staff member to draw blood without McNeely's permission. When the results of the test showed that McNeely was well above the legal limit, he was charged with DUI.
Prior to going to trial, McNeely's lawyers filed a motion preventing the results of the blood test from being used as evidence, arguing that the results are inadmissible as evidence, because they were obtained without a search warrant. Prosecutors opposed the motion, arguing that officers were justified in ordering the blood test, because in the time it would take to get a warrant, the more the alcohol in McNeely's would be metabolized; thus, delays would mean destruction of evidence.
The trial judge agreed with McNeely and prevented the prosecutors from using the blood test results. On appeal, the appeals court reversed the trial court's decision. However, the Missouri Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the officer was not justified in ordering a blood test without a warrant. As the case was appealed to the United States Supreme Court, it will now have the final say as to whether a warrant is required to forcibly draw blood from a drunk driving suspect.
Effects of Ruling
The Supreme Court's ruling in this case will potentially affect the rights of DUI
suspects in Florida. Currently under Florida law, law enforcement may forcibly order a blood test on a driver, who was involved in a car accident that caused serious bodily harm or death, if they suspect that the driver is intoxicated. Should the Supreme Court rule that a warrant is required to draw blood, this law could possibly be declared unconstitutional.
A decision in the case is not expected until spring of 2013, so how it will affect other Florida drunk driving laws and procedures is unclear. Although the decision may force Florida law enforcement to make procedural changes, the penalties for drunk driving are certain to remain steep. If you or a loved one have been accused of DUI, it is important to present a strong defense. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney, who can assist you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected.
Article provided by Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law
Visit us at www.mosesandrooth.com---
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