Earlier this spring, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision that directly impacts the way law enforcement can collect evidence in drunk driving cases. The court determined, based on an appeal originating in Missouri, that police can’t administer warrantless blood tests under most circumstances. Now that that ruling has had time to filter down to local police departments, a number of legal concerns are being raised across the country.
For example, law enforcement agencies in Minnesota are trying to figure out how to handle drunk driving arrests after a number of legal challenges were made to blood and breath test practices on the state level. In the Missouri case, police reasoned that the “dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream” was reason enough to forgo a warrant. The same is true in Minnesota, which is one reason why the high court ruling has opened a number of other criminal defense issues.
At this point, there are varying interpretations among local courts about the effects of the Missouri case ruling. In some driving while intoxicated cases, courts decided that implied consent laws are “coercive,” because refusing to take a breath test is considered a crime. On the other hand, some courts have upheld the law — even in light of the Supreme Court case. Either way, many local law enforcement agencies may now be opting for warrants during DWI arrests.
When police stop a person suspected of drunk driving, his or her civil rights shouldn’t be put on hold. Police must follow the law in order to maintain fairness during the criminal process.
As the impacts of the Supreme Court’s ruling continue to trickle down, driving while intoxicated cases throughout the state could be affected. This is why it’s of critical importance to understand what legal options exist in the wake of DWI charges.
Source: St. Cloud Times, “DWI case could mean changes for law enforcement,” David Unze, June 29, 2013