Every state and Washington, D.C., prohibit drunk driving. The penalties are significantly varied depending on which state the driver is in when charged. However, a recent United States Supreme Court ruling will have an impact on the procedures law enforcement officers in all states must follow when using a blood test to determine a person’s blood alcohol content.
In June of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement officers must get a warrant before taking a blood test. The reasoning behind the ruling was two-fold. First, the court said that without the warrant, the taking of the blood sample was intrusive to a person’s body, which violates the Fourth Amendment. Second, the court said that the blood sample can be kept and used for other purposes by the government.
While a person’s BAC will go down once he or she quits drinking, the Supreme Court refused to provide law enforcement officers with a categorical rule that said every DUI case has exigent circumstances and therefore would not require a warrant.
For those facing drunk driving charges, this ruling doesn’t apply to breath tests to establish BAC. The court held that warrantless breath tests incident to arrest are permitted. While drivers can refuse a breath test, there are consequences, such as the suspension or revocation of driving privileges.
If you are accused of drunk driving, you have the right to ask to speak to an attorney. You also have a right not to speak to police until an attorney is present. These are two rights that when put to use can make the prosecution’s case more difficult.