In April the United States Supreme Court ruled that a police officer needed a search warrant to have blood drawn from a DWI suspect if the suspect refused to give a sample of his blood, usually after a breath test refusal. That was the McNeely case which seemed like a wholesale victory for everyone who cared about personal freedoms and also for those attorneys that practice drunk driving defense. However, there was language in the McNeely decision that can be construed to leave the door open to many possible scenarios where a search warrant may not be necessary for a police officer to have blood drawn.
There was worry by DWI defense attorneys, including myself, that the language of the McNeely decision was too narrow, especially because the decision by the court was a close one. A narrow decision of this nature could open the door for many exceptions that would carve away at the personal freedom to not have a search of your body conducted without probable cause and a search warrant signed by a judge.
Fortunately, the Missouri Court of Appeals – Southern District recently decided the case of State of Missouri v. Jason Reed, SD32465, where the court held that simply because a police officer is very busy on the night of an arrest is not an exception to the general rule laid out in McNeely. Although this seems like a pretty obvious decision by the court it is good to see the new case law start in the right directions. It will be important to continue to monitor cases involing a warrantless blood draw. Although many people thought McNeely would end the discussion of this issue, it may have just been the beginning.
To learn more about the consequences of a Breath Test Refusal and how to possibly avoid those consquences please visit our Breath Test Refusal page.