A recent Supreme Court decision requires police officers to get a warrant if a suspected DUI driver refuses to take a blood test voluntarily. This ruling could eventually impact procedures in future cases of DUI in Los Angeles.
In a split decision, five of the eight justices said that police may not arrest a driver for refusing a blood test if they do not have a warrant. The Court ruled that warrantless blood tests violate drivers’ Fourth Amendment constitutional rights. The same justices also said that the same protection did not extend to drivers when it came to breathalyzer tests, because the breath tests are less intrusive than blood tests.
In dissenting opinions, two justices said that warrants should be required for both blood and breathalyzer tests; one said that they should be required for neither.
The Supreme Court was ruling on three cases—two from North Dakota and one from Minnesota—that had raised the issue of warrantless blood tests for drivers accused of DUI. Those two states, plus 11 others (Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia) have laws making it a crime for a driver to refuse a request for a blood alcohol test when an officer suspects that a motorist is driving under the influence.
California law does not make a refusal of a blood alcohol test a crime, but it does have an implied consent law; a driver refusing to take a blood alcohol test can lose his/her license a year. According to an article in Police Chief Magazine, the Supreme Court’s ruling does not address whether or not implied consent laws also require that police obtain a warrant when they ask drivers to take a blood alcohol test. Legal observers expect other DUI cases testing the administration of BACS without warrants under implied consent will end up in courts.
To understand what to do to fight back against your charges, call Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer, Michael Kraut of Kraut Law Group. As a former (and highly successful) Deputy District Attorney, Mr. Kraut has fought on behalf of defendants like you for nearly 20 years.