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Supreme Court reviews search warrant criteria in DUI case

The Supreme Court heard arguments in a case involving whether or not a search warrant should be required to take a blood sample from a DUI suspect. The case dealt with a Missouri man who was pulled over by a state patrolman for speeding who failed a roadside sobriety test and refused the breath test.

The officer then drove him directly to the hospital for a blood test without requesting a search warrant. The blood test showed the driver was well over the state's blood alcohol content (BAC) limit of .08 percent. However, the Missouri Supreme Court later excluded the blood evidence because the officer didn't obtain a search warrant.

Currently, refusing to take a breath test can cost a motorist their driver's license in all 50 states. Twenty-five states require a warrant before blood is taken from a person for BAC testing.

The justices sounded uneasy about allowing police to take blood without a warrant, even after the attorneys argued that taking the time to obtain a warrant, which generally takes anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, would allow the alcohol in the blood to dissipate.

Drunk driving charges can be potentially serious. Prison time, fines and loss of driving privileges are possibilities. If a defendant feels the police violated his or her rights, an attorney who works in the field of DUI defense may be able to help. The attorney may be able to review the evidence and attempt to have the charges reduced or dismissed.

Source: The Los Angeles Times, "Justices wary of mandatory blood tests in drunk driving cases," David G. Savage, Jan. 9, 2013

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