Warrants required for DWI blood draws?

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

The consequences for a conviction for DWI are seemingly always increasing. New York has consistently reviewed the penalties in place each legislative session to ensure that they remain some of the harshest in the country. Police and prosecutors are encouraged to devote significant resources to cutting down the number of drunk drivers on state roadways.

Occasionally, the actions of law enforcement officers will become an issue in DWI cases. When an officer makes a DWI stop, there are certain procedures that he or she must follow to ensure that a motorist's constitutional rights are protected. If these procedures are not observed, the evidence against the motorist may be excluded.

A recent United States Supreme Court case could have a major impact on the way that police departments handle drunk driving investigations. The case concerned a motorist in Missouri, who was stopped on suspicion for DWI. The driver exhibited several signs of impairment, and failed field sobriety tests.

The driver was asked to submit to a blood test, which was refused. The officer then transported the motorist to a nearby medical facility, where the blood was withdrawn over these objections.

The officer did not obtain a warrant prior to forcing the motorist to submit to the blood test. The officer believed that a warrant was not necessary, even though he had obtained one in prior DUI stops.

The Court was asked to create a rule that would allow for warrantless blood tests whenever an individual is suspected of DWI. Prosecutors believed that the amount of time it takes to obtain a warrant could permit the motorist's blood alcohol-content (BAC) to drop below legal limits.

In its ruling, the Court refused this request. It stated that warrantless blood draws may be allowed, but only in emergency circumstances. Each situation will depend upon the facts present in that specific case. It excluded the evidence here, saying that the officer had ample time to obtain the necessary warrant before the driver's BAC decreased.

This ruling will force law enforcement officers to examine the way that they proceed with drunk driving cases. By requiring a warrant, the Court is stressing how important it is for police to respect a motorist's constitutional rights. It is important for motorists to note that those who refuse to consent to these tests may still face penalties under New York's implied consent laws.

If you have been arrested for drunk driving, be sure that you understand how serious the penalties are for a conviction. You will be facing the loss of your driving privileges, and will have to install an ignition interlock device before you will be allowed back behind the wheel in New York.

Speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney to present a strong defense to these charges. An attorney can review your case to determine the options that may be available, and also ensure that your rights are protected. Do not talk to the police until your attorney is present, because you are only making their job easier. Anything that you tell the officer can be disclosed at trial.