Supreme Court Decision Requires Search Warrant For DUI Blood Test

People charged with DUI or DWI in Tennessee had their rights expanded, as of last year, and therefore may have a new approach to their defense. In April 2013 The United States Supreme Court ruled that in drunk driving investigations, the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream does not constitute an exigency in every case sufficient to justify law dui police check point blood testenforcement conducting a blood test without a search warrant.

The bottom line of the Court’s decision in Missouri v. McNeely was that every case will be judged on its own facts, so the investigating police officer can never know whether failure to get a warrant would sink an entire drunk-driving case altogether. The 5-4 majority said that the Constitution does not allow police to get a blood sample without ever having to get a warrant, in any case.  So, this decision sets up a case-by-case approach, suggesting that getting a warrant very likely would remove any doubt.

What does this mean for Tennessee DUI defendants?

First it is important to understand that a ruling by the US Supreme Court establishes minimum privacy rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.  Accordingly, Tennessee Courts are required to acknowledge and abide by the higher Federal Court’s decision.

Secondly, if a person suspected of a DUI in Tennessee elects not to consent to the arresting officer’s request for a blood sample, it is likely that the officer will need to obtain a search warrant in order to proceed with a blood draw over the suspect’s objection.  If a blood sample is obtained without a search warrant in spite of the suspect’s objection, and without a justification of urgency based upon the facts of the case, the blood test results may be determined by the court to be inadmissible as evidence against the suspect.

The legal analysis to be applied in each DUI case can be very complicated. Whether a search warrant was obtained and whether the warrant is valid are just a few issues which should be examined in each DUI case. That is why it is important for a person charged with driving under the influence to seek the services of a competent attorney familiar with Tennessee DUI laws.  Contact our Tennessee criminal defense attorneys today to schedule a consultation and discuss your case.

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