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Thursday, January 10, 2013
Supreme Court Hears Case About Forced Blood Alcohol Test for Drunk Driving
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case Wednesday on the question of whether police must obtain a warrant before forcing suspected drunk drivers to submit to a blood alcohol test. State supreme courts are divided on whether these forced tests violate the Fourth Amendment, which protects again unreasonable searches and seizures, according to The Christian Science Monitor.
The case centers on Tyler McNeely, who was pulled over for speeding by a Missouri highway patrolman, and was taken to a hospital. About 25 minutes after McNeely was pulled over, a technician measured his blood-alcohol content at 0.154 percent, nearly twice the legal limit.
The Missouri police in the case argued they should not have to wait for approval to give a blood test, because alcohol dissipates quickly in the bloodstream. Last year, the Missouri Supreme Court rejected that argument. It ruled the blood test violated the Fourth Amendment. The court found there were no special circumstances to justify obtaining the blood test so quickly. State high courts in Iowa and Utah also have made similar rulings.
The Supreme Courts of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Oregon have all ruled in favor of warrantless blood tests, the article notes. The Obama Administration and attorneys general from 32 states are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to declare that warrantless blood tests are not in violation of the Fourth Amendment.