Can the police take blood sample in a DUI case without consent?
In McNeeley v. Missouri issued on April 13, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the police must obtain a warrant before a blood sample in a DUI case could be drawn. In McNeeley, a Missouri state trooper stopped Tyler McNeeley after he observed McNeeley’s trucked exceeded the posted speed limit and crossed the the centerline three times. Upon making contact with McNeeley, he observed McNeeley having slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and strong odor of alcohol. Thereafter, McNeeley admitted that he had consumed a couple beers at a bar earlier. McNeeley failed the field sobriety test and then declined to submit a breath sample. He was then placed under arrest by the trooper.
While being transported the jail, McNeeley was asked to submit to a breath test at the jail. He refused. He was then taken to a nearby hospital where a blood sample was obtained without his consent and without a warrant. Later, the blood sample showed a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.154%.
The Supreme court held that the metabolizing of alcohol is not an exigent circumstance justifying the drawing of a blood sample without a warrant. District of Columbia has long established a “implied consent” law in drunk driving cases. When a police officer has probable cause to believe that someone is driving while intoxicated, he/she is required to take a breath or blood test. Failure to do so may result in license suspension for 1 year.
However, McNeeley does not deem the state’s Implied Consent Laws unconstitutional. Most states have adopted the implied consent laws. It simply requires that the police to obtain a warrant when the suspected drunk driver invokes his/her “implied consent.” I should note that the McNeeley decision is not a cure all that’s going to allow every drunk driver to win his/her case. The government may still be able to prove a DUI case beyond a reasonable doubt by way of observation and field sobriety test.
If you have been arrested for DUI in DC or in the State of Maryland call Rollins and Chan for a initial free telephone consultation. 202-455-5610 or 301-362-6650.