The United States Supreme Court recently decided the case of Missouri v. McNeely, and held that law enforcement must ‘attempt’ to obtain a search warrant prior to obtaining a blood sample from a DWI suspect. The decision is one of the most important in DWI law in a long time. The overall impact of the decision will take time to determine but it is this attorney’s opinion that the admissibility of any type of test result (blood, urine & breath), obtained without a search warrant is now in question. Prosecutors are likely to argue that the McNeely decision is only applicable to nonconsensual blood draws, and since most DWI suspects are given the option to take the test, that they have consented. However, the issue that will arise with that argument is whether the consent was ‘voluntary’ or not. If a DWI suspect refuses a test, they are charged with the criminal offense of DWI-Refusal, and are subject to more severe criminal charges as well as a longer suspension of their driving privileges. It is hard for many defense attorneys to understand how any consent in that context could be considered ‘voluntary’ but that will likely be the next issue to be decided by the Courts.
Read the McNeely decision.