Man Acquitted of DWI After Being Forced to Submit to Blood Draw

Although the verdict wasn’t reached in a Missouri court, a recent DWI story out of another state is reminiscent of a Missouri case that will soon be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. The primary legal question in both cases is whether or not it is a violation of constitutional rights to force drunk driving suspects to submit to a blood test without a warrant.

In the out-of-state case, a man charged for drunk driving was finally acquitted after years of appeals. After he refused to take a roadside breath test, the man was brought to a hospital for a blood test. In order to obtain the blood sample, a police officer sat on the man’s chest while a nurse drew his blood.

The state court of appeals ruled that it was a violation of the man’s Fourth Amendment rights, which protect against warrantless searches and seizures. For many years, police departments throughout the country have required those suspected of DWU to submit to blood tests if they refuse a breath test. They argue that they don’t have time to obtain a warrant before the blood-alcohol content wears off.

While automatic blood tests have been a common practice for quite some time, many argue that police officers do have enough time to obtain warrants, which could invalidate the evidence used in court.

This summer, the nation’s top court will finally hand down their ruling in the Missouri blood-draw case. As those charged with DWI after refusing a breath test move to trial, the forthcoming judgment is likely to play a major role in the success of defense strategies and validity of blood evidence collected by police.

Source: Winston-Salem Journal, “Winston-Salem man who alleged that police violated his rights acquitted of DWI,” Michael Hewlett, March 15, 2013

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