There still remains confusion regarding the recent U.S. Supreme Court case now requiring search warrants to be issued when someone arrested refuses to submit to a blood alcohol test. One Minnesota judge emphasizes that the ruling does not make all drunken driving convictions invalid. The ruling merely narrowed exceptions to the Fourth Amendment as involves warrantless blood alcohol tests.
Law enforcement officers have often argued that the time necessary to acquire a search warrant would at the same time allow the blood alcohol to dissipate from the system. The Supreme Court merely ruled that lack of time may be an excuse during some but not all circumstances.
Concerning the arrest of the individual involved in the Supreme Court case, it was noted by the justices that police had ample time to seek a search warrant from a judge. The arresting officers, however, never even made the attempt to obtain a warrant after refusal to submit to the blood alcohol test was made.
In light of this earlier U.S. Supreme Court decision, there has also been a Minnesota case sent back to state court regarding a particular Minnesota law. Minnesota law makes it a crime for any driver to refuse to submit to a chemical test concerning blood alcohol levels. It’s possible that such a law may be considered unconstitutional. It is claimed that such a law places the person in the position of either giving up their right to require a search warrant be issued before the test is conducted or face arrest.
Rulings by the nation’s highest court will not end controversies occurring when DUI arrests are being made. Law enforcement officers and prosecuting attorneys in Minnesota may simply come up with expedited ways of obtaining warrants for blood alcohol tests.
Still, these rulings do confirm that individuals arrested for DUI do have rights guaranteed under the constitution. DUI defense attorneys can counsel clients as to what those rights may be.
Source: Mille Lacs Messenger, “Search warrants for blood alcohol tests,” Judge Frank Kundrat, Sep. 13, 2013