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Supreme Court limits warrantless blood tests for drunken driving suspects
THe Washington Post ^ | April 17, 2013 | Robert Barnes

Posted on 04/18/2013 1:31:41 PM PDT by Lurking Libertarian

Police officers generally must try to get a warrant before forcing uncooperative drunken-driving suspects to submit to a blood test, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

The natural dissipation of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream does not justify an exception to the general constitutional requirements of a warrant, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote for the majority.

She said such emergencies must be determined by the circumstances in a case-by-case examination and rejected the notion that officers face a “now or never” situation in obtaining blood alcohol tests.

“In those drunk-driving investigations where police officers can reasonably obtain a warrant before a blood sample can be drawn without significantly undermining the efficacy of the search, the Fourth Amendment mandates that they do so,” Sotomayor wrote.

(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Government; US: Missouri
KEYWORDS: dui; fourthamendment; scotus
Majority: Sotomayor, Scalia, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Kagan

Concurrence (actually, very similar to the majority): Roberts, breyer, Alito

Dissent: Thomas

1 posted on 04/18/2013 1:31:41 PM PDT by Lurking Libertarian
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To: BuckeyeTexan

SCOTUS ping.


2 posted on 04/18/2013 1:32:31 PM PDT by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: Lurking Libertarian
A little background:

Generally, a search requires a search warrant, but there is an exception for "exigent circumstances." Back in 1966, in a case called Schmerber v. California, SCOTUS ruled that drawing blood from a suspected drunk driver was always an "exigent circumstance," because the blood alcohol would dissipate before a warrant could be obtained.

Yesterday's decision held that Schmerber is no longer valid, for two reasons: (1) today, police can get a warrant much more quickly than they could in 1966, because they can fax or email a request to a judge who can fax or email the warrant back; and (2) today's blood alcohol tests are more sensitive and need not be done as quickly to be valid.

The majority did not hold that a warrant is always necessary, but said that, any time the police draw blood without a warrant, they will have to show that the facts of the case prevented them from doing so.

The concurrence (Roberts, Alito and Breyer) generally agreed, but wanted the Court to give more guidance to the police about what facts would justify not getting a warrant. Only Thomas wanted to uphold the Schmerber rule.

3 posted on 04/18/2013 1:41:13 PM PDT by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: Lurking Libertarian

This will have interesting repercussions in states which are decriminalizing pot, as breathalyzers are useless.


4 posted on 04/18/2013 1:41:17 PM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: Lurking Libertarian
obtain a warrant before a blood sample can be drawn without significantly undermining the efficacy of the search, the Fourth Amendment mandates that they do so
But it's okay to override the 4th Amendment to set up "safety" road-blocks to find the DUIs? WTF????
5 posted on 04/18/2013 1:47:39 PM PDT by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: oh8eleven
But it's okay to override the 4th Amendment to set up "safety" road-blocks to find the DUIs? WTF????

That's another whole line of cases, but, briefly stated, the distinction that's been drawn is that briefly stopping a car and making the driver roll down the window to see if he reeks of alcohol is much less intrusive than dragging the driver to a hospital and sticking a needle into his vein.

6 posted on 04/18/2013 1:53:13 PM PDT by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: Lurking Libertarian

That was the rationale when they approved DUI checkpoints. But now they check your seat belt, your papers, whether you are driving with any unapproved child car seats with expired dates, etc. etc. etc. etc.


7 posted on 04/18/2013 1:57:27 PM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: oh8eleven

Dont Talk to Police
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc


8 posted on 04/18/2013 2:02:13 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (I'll raise $2million for Sarah Palin's presidential run. What'll you do?)
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To: Lurking Libertarian
Warrants are BS anyway. In states that required one in the past, they supposedly have a “Judge” on 24/7 standby to electronically rubber stamp these blood draw requests.

I find it absolutely sickening that police thugs are given the authority to hold someone down and stick a needle in their arm without trial. These are not the actions of an “innocent until proven guilty” system.

9 posted on 04/18/2013 2:02:19 PM PDT by varyouga
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To: oh8eleven

Up here, around Albany, New York, our police never take breathalyzers tests when they are stopped on suspicion of DUI or worse.
However, the law says if you don’t acquiesce to the test you can lose your license.
Would guess losing you license is voided too.


10 posted on 04/18/2013 2:02:23 PM PDT by BilLies (The Progressive Liberal American Press will be the death of freedom in this country.)
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To: Lurking Libertarian

I wonder why Thomas dissented? He is usually a solid individual rights justice.


11 posted on 04/18/2013 2:10:54 PM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (Inside every liberal is a totalitarian screaming to get out.)
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To: Blood of Tyrants
I wonder why Thomas dissented? He is usually a solid individual rights justice.

In criminal cases, Thomas almost always votes with the prosecution. Alito is also a generally pro-prosecution justice. Breyer, although usually considered one of the "liberal" judges, likewise votes for the prosecution in many criminal cases; and Scalia, considered one of the "conservative" judges, very often votes for the defense in criminal cases.

12 posted on 04/18/2013 2:19:31 PM PDT by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: Lurking Libertarian
"Dissent: Thomas"

That surprises me. Thomas is a very staunch proponent of due process.

13 posted on 04/18/2013 2:38:39 PM PDT by uncommonsense (more laws = more government = more coercive power = more crimes of consequence)
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To: Lurking Libertarian
making the driver roll down the window to see if he reeks of alcohol is much less intrusive
There is no probable cause - hence - the DUI "safety" stops are unconstitutional.
I ALWAYS tell this to the cops when I have to drive through them and the yget plenty pissed. I don't care.
14 posted on 04/18/2013 2:39:26 PM PDT by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: Buckeye McFrog

Nah, it shouldn’t have any effect on that, because pot stays in your bloodstream for weeks.


15 posted on 04/18/2013 2:41:24 PM PDT by Boogieman
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To: BilLies
the law says if you don’t acquiesce to the test you can lose your license.
I live in NYS too and it's an automatic 6 month revocation if you refuse the breathalyzer.
16 posted on 04/18/2013 2:41:43 PM PDT by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I hear ya’ but I’ve known that for decades.


17 posted on 04/18/2013 2:43:17 PM PDT by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: uncommonsense
Thomas is a very staunch proponent of due process.

Not in criminal cases. Thomas is a "law and order" conservative; he votes for the prosecution in nearly every criminal case.

18 posted on 04/18/2013 2:44:20 PM PDT by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: varyouga

It’s also clearly a violation of the 5th amendment protections against self-incrimination. My blood is a part of me, so to forcibly take it in order to incriminate me is equivalent to forcing me to testify against myself.


19 posted on 04/18/2013 2:45:23 PM PDT by Boogieman
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To: oh8eleven

Sure, but how long is your license suspended if you blow positive? Might be better to just take the suspension on the chance of beating the blood test a few hours later and keeping a DUI off your record.


20 posted on 04/18/2013 2:46:57 PM PDT by Boogieman
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To: Lurking Libertarian

States should just impose a blood ‘tax’ for drivers who are pulled over...


21 posted on 04/18/2013 2:50:03 PM PDT by mrsmith (Dumb sluts: Lifeblood of the Media, Backbone of the Democrat Party!)
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To: Boogieman
Your insurance company gets notified by the state if you refuse to blow.
They'll probably dump you (especially if there are priors) - or raise your rates 3X-10X.
22 posted on 04/18/2013 2:53:03 PM PDT by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: Boogieman

In a long line of cases going back to 1910, the Supreme Court held that the 5th Amendment protects you against being forced to give oral or written testimony, but not against being forced to display your physical characteristics— standing in a lineup, giving fingerprints, having blood drawn, etc.


23 posted on 04/18/2013 3:00:35 PM PDT by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: Lurking Libertarian

So if you’re tired and swerving on the road because you work 3 jobs to pay for Obama’s taxes then you get to be falsely accused of drunkenness...lovely.


24 posted on 04/18/2013 3:00:40 PM PDT by Wanderer99
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To: varyouga
I find it absolutely sickening that police thugs are given the authority to hold someone down and stick a needle in their arm without trial. These are not the actions of an “innocent until proven guilty” system.

and you'll never know if proper antiseptic technique was used or if the needle is contaminated with HIV. Not all cops are competent and unlike medical staff, you can't sue them at the drop of a hat.
25 posted on 04/18/2013 3:03:00 PM PDT by Wanderer99
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To: Lurking Libertarian

I think, in general, that we have erred too far in granting exceptions to the rights of individuals in deference to the interests of government. Will some guilty go free? Yes, of course, but better than a single innocent wrongly deprived of God given liberty and freedom. This the founders firmly believed, but our current crop of politicians sadly do not.


26 posted on 04/18/2013 3:06:17 PM PDT by centurion316
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To: Wanderer99
So if you’re tired and swerving on the road because you work 3 jobs to pay for Obama’s taxes then you get to be falsely accused of drunkenness...lovely.

If that happened to me, I'd be screaming to take a blood test. They wouldn't need a warrant.

27 posted on 04/18/2013 3:11:06 PM PDT by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: Blood of Tyrants
Thomas' dissent is here.
28 posted on 04/18/2013 6:21:58 PM PDT by zeugma (Those of us who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living.)
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To: Lurking Libertarian

I know that, but the Supreme Court is often completely wrong when it comes to the Constitution.


29 posted on 04/19/2013 9:39:43 AM PDT by Boogieman
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To: Lurking Libertarian
"Thomas is a "law and order" conservative; he votes for the prosecution in nearly every criminal case."

That's an observation that I wasn't aware of - not being a rigorous student of SCOTUS.

Based on future SCOTUS nominations, this precedence makes a serious point of delineation for new "due process" litigation. Liberty is in the balance... and drifting to the LEFT.

30 posted on 04/20/2013 10:05:15 PM PDT by uncommonsense (Conservatives believe what they see; Liberals see what they believe.)
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To: Wanderer99

Pardon my ignorance here, but are you saying the cops are drawing blood on the roadside? In GA, we have an “implied consent” law subjecting you to a test of blood, breath, or urine but if you have blood drawn you are transported to hospital.


31 posted on 04/23/2013 10:59:19 AM PDT by The_Sword_of_Groo (My world view is accurately expressed in the lyrics of " The Fightin' Side of Me")
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