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Supreme Court Strikes Down Forced DUI Blood Tests, Upholds the Breathalyzer

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In a 7-1 decision, the US Supreme Court has ruled that law enforcement can’t force drunk drivers to take invasive blood tests without a warrant, although it held that they absolutely can force you to take a breathalyzer test without a warrant. More specifically, states can’t make it a criminal act to refuse a blood test, but absolutely can punish drivers for refusing a breath test.

This decision comes from three cases, where defendants were convicted of refusing to take tests in North Dakota and Minnesota, and afterward claimed that these tests violated the Fourth Amendment protection from unlawful searches and seizures since the police did not have warrants. Lower courts had upheld the state’s laws criminalizing refusal to take a blood test.

The majority opinion is more or less that blood tests are too invasive to be undertaken without a warrant. However, “Because breath tests are significantly less intrusive than blood tests and in most cases amply serve law enforcement interests, we conclude that a breath test, but not a blood test, may be administered as a search, incident to a lawful arrest for drunk driving,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito.

The decision has been criticized by anti-drunk-driving groups, such as the Foundation for Alcohol Responsibility. Its president, Ralph Blackman, said in a statement that the ruling would lead to “more refusals, more plea bargains, and tougher cases for prosecutors.”

Justice Clarence Thomas was the one completely dissenting opinion, voting in favor of completely warrantless blood and breath tests, while Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg voted that both tests should require warrants.

News Source: Yahoo News