DWI: Does a warrantless blood draw violate the Fourth Amendment?

The United States Supreme Court heard arguments last week regarding a Missouri case where a law enforcement officer conducted a blood draw on an individual without a search warrant to determine the alcohol concentration in the person’s blood in support of his suspicion that the individual was driving while intoxicated (DWI). The case, Missouri v. McNeely, is viewed as a landmark case addressing the constitutionality of a blood test conducted without a search warrant in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Missouri maintains that the dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream constitutes an emergency allowing for a blood test without a warrant. There appears little doubt that the use of a needle by officers acting as agents of the government to obtain a blood sample is an invasive procedure. The question remains whether the Supreme Court will allow officers, at their discretion, to obtain blood samples from individuals suspected of drunk driving. A decision is expected later this summer.

A copy of the transcript of the oral argument can be found at http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/11-1425.pdf

For more information regarding driving while intoxicated (DWI), warrantless searches, and criminal law please contact Scott A. Hamblin at Brydon Swearengen & England P.C.  Additional infomrationconvcerning Scott’s practice can be found at scotthamblin@brydonlaw.com.