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DUI Arrest Blood Draw Ruling by Supreme Court

On April 17, 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled on the issue of DUI arrest blood draw. They ruled that the loss of evidence accompanying the natural metabolization of alcohol in the bloodstream does not automatically create an emergency which justifies an exception to the warrant requirement for nonconsensual blood testing in all drunk driving cases.  The DUI arrest blood draw warrant requirement comes under the fourth amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.  According to the United States Supreme Court, in some circumstances, a law enforcement official who acts without a warrant can unreasonably search or seize evidence by piercing the skin with a needle in order to draw blood from a person suspected of DUI. This ruling may have important ramifications on DUI cases in Santa Rosa and throughout California. 

Advances in Technology Make It Easier to Obtain DUI Warrants

In its decision, the United States Supreme Court emphasized that the importance of requiring authorization by a neutral and detached magistrate before allowing a law enforcement officer to invade another’s body in search of evidence of guilt is indisputable and great.  The Court focused upon technology-based developments that make it easier and quicker for law enforcement officials to contact a neutral magistrate in order to obtain a warrant, citing situations where police officers have been able to email warrant requests to judge’s iPads, where warrants were emailed back to the officers in less than 15 minutes.  The United States Supreme Court’s decision was aimed at States like California, whose penal code does allow warrants to be sent by telegraph, teletype, or any other electronic devices.

Officers are Required to Make Judgment Calls Regarding Whether a DUI Warrant is Necessary Based Upon All the Circumstances

The United States Supreme Court’s decision does not mean that there will never be situations where dissipation of alcohol from the bloodstream will constitute an emergency that allows officers to perform nonconsensual blood draws without a warrant.  On the contrary, the law laid down by the Court requires police officers to make judgment calls based on all circumstances accompanying each specific situation.  If there are practical problems obtaining a warrant within a time-frame that still preserves the opportunity to obtain reliable evidence, then under such circumstances the dissipation of alcohol from the bloodstream may be a good reason to perform a blood draw without a warrant.  If, on the other hand the circumstances indicate that there was a neutral magistrate readily available who the police officer could have sent an electronic warrant application to prior to a long drive to a hospital where a blood draw was performed, that’s the kind of conduct by law enforcement officials that the United States Supreme Court appears to be trying to deter.

Suppression of the Test Results of an Illegal Nonconsensual Blood Draw Can Result in Dismissal of DUI Charges

One of the ultimate deterrents which the Court can impose when a law enforcement official directs an unlawful search or seizure to be performed is suppression of the evidence obtained in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights.  The Court can regard this evidence as “fruit of the poisonous tree,” and prevent evidence of the blood alcohol content obtained from the test results of blood that was taken in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights from being introduced in evidence during trial.  This can make it difficult for the District Attorney to prove their case against you, and can even result in dismissal of the charges against you.  Have you been subjected to a nonconsensual blood draw by a police officer who did not first obtain a warrant?  You may be a prime candidate for assistance by the experienced DUI attorneys at Beck Law Offices, who may be able to use this new United States Supreme Court precedent to suppress evidence of alcohol in your blood obtained illegally, and dismiss your DUI charges.  Contact us to request a meeting to discuss the particulars of your case.

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