The Christian Science Monitor reports:
Thetakes up a case on Wednesday that examines whether police must obtain a warrant from a neutral judge before forcibly extracting blood from a suspected drunk driver.
At issue is when police have the authority to force a motorist to submit to a blood test after the motorist refuses atest.
Under the, Americans are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. That means before police invade a person’s privacy, they must demonstrate to a neutral judge that there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. If the judge is convinced, a search warrant is issued.
That’s what happens in most cases. But the Supreme Court has ruled that under certain circumstances police are free to conduct a search without first obtaining a warrant.
The question in Wednesday’s case, Missouri v. McNeely (11-1425), is whether a state trooper violated motorist Tyler McNeely’s Fourth Amendment rights when the trooper ordered a hospital attendant to forcibly take a blood sample from a hand-cuffed Mr. McNeely to preserve evidence of his elevated blood-alcohol level.
The argument for allowing warrantless blood tests is centered on the fact that blood alcohol levels fall with time.
The Supreme Court is being asked to resolve a split among state supreme courts on the issue. The top courts in, , and have all ruled that the rapid dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream is a sufficient exigency to justify a warrantless blood test.
In contrast, state high courts in, , and have ruled that dissipation does not excuse police from obtaining a warrant before conducting an involuntary blood test.
Theand attorneys general from 32 states, the , and are urging the Supreme Court to declare that warrantless blood tests do not violate the Fourth Amendment.