Yesterday, January 9th, 2013, SCOTUS heard arguments from both sides in regards to the warrantless blood draws used at trial after drunk driving or drugged driving arrests.
In most states, the suspected drunken driver is required to take a breath alcohol test or a blood alcohol test. In Virginia, the arrested driver must take whatever test the arresting officer chooses to provide. Here in Virginia, if a suspect refuses to provide a blood or breath sample as requested, they are issued the civil charge of “Refusal to Submit to Blood/Breath Test” (VA Code § 18.2-268.3) which is punishable by the suspension of their driving privileges for one year. If the arrested driver had been charged with DUI or civil refusal on a previous occassion, the new refusal charge is a misdemeanor that could be punishable by jail and a longer license suspension.
Missouri resident Tyler McNeely was pulled over for suspected drunken driving in October 2010. The state trooper that pulled him over asked him to submit to a breath test to which he refused. The trooper then handcuffed him and transported him to the local hospital where he refused a blood test. The ACLU is arguing that he was restrained against his will (in regards to the 4th amendment free from unreasonable search or seizure rights) when he was strapped down and his blood was drawn at the hospital. During his first trial, McNeely’s defense attorneys won the motion to have the evidence suppressed, therefore the blood draw which provided a BAC of 0.154 was not used.
The Missouri Court of Appeals agreed that a blood draw against someone’s will was a fourth amendment violation. The case then moved to the Missouri Supreme Court which said it is not a violation. It is argued that if a search warrant has to be issued in a suspected drunken driving case and it takes more time than usual the evidence could be under threat of destruction due to the way the body processes alcohol. SCOTUS will hear this argument and decide if a blood draw is a “reasonable” search, and so far it seems they are considering both sides equally. A decision in this landmark case is expected by summer 2013.
Facing DWI charges in Fairfax County , Loudoun County or Prince William C ounty can be worrisome. Please call The Gordon Law Firm today for your free consultation and let us answer your questions. Locally you can reach us at 703-218-8416, or toll-free at 866-591-6682.