U.S. Supreme Court Throws Out DUI Conviction

Occasionally the Supreme Court agrees to hear a DUI case.  Although they hear the case, the decision usually goes against the defendant, this is an exception to that rule.  In this case the defendant, McNeely was stopped by a police officer for speeding and weaving across the centerline. After declining to take a breath test to measure his blood alcohol in the field, he was taken to a hospital where a blood sample, revealing blood alcohol levels above the legal limit, was taken against his will.   The officer did not obtain a search warrant prior to the taking of the sample and McNeely did not agree to blood draw. The trial court suppressed the results of the   blood test, ruling that the search violated the accused  Fourth Amendment rights,  and the Missouri Supreme Court affirmed.   surprisingly, the US Supreme Court agreed.   The Court ruled, absent exigent circumstances,   search warrants are required before a compelled blood sample may be taken for use as evidence in a DUI criminal investigation. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the state’s position that the natural dissipation of alcohol constitutes an exigent circumstance justifying a per se rule allowing the taking of a sample  without a warrant or consent. Instead the Justices ruled that the matter be determined on  a case-by-case assessment of the totality of the circumstances, in which the dissipation element is a factor in evaluating whether an exigency exists to obtain a forced blood draw from a DUI suspect.

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