Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney Blog

US Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Landmark DUI Blood Test Case

United States Supreme Court.jpgThe 4thAmendment right put to the test: Unlawful search and seizure

On September 25, 2012, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear Missouri, Petitioner v. Tyler G. McNeely. The decision could affect DUI blood test consent cases throughout the nation.

The high court will rule on the issue of when the police need a warrant to draw blood from a suspect stopped on DUI, if they refuse a blood test. The law requires consent by the suspect to for the blood test to be administered, or in the alternative, with a warrant by police. The warrant could be waived, however, under the following circumstances:

• A delay could threaten a life; or
• A delay would destroy potential evidence.

In this case, the suspect refused both the breath test, and was also unwilling to take a blood test. The police proceeded with the chemical blood test which reportedly was 0.154% and exceeded the legal limit in Missouri of .08%.

The defendant moved to suppress the blood test on the challenge that since he did not consent to the test; the officer did not seek a warrant; and the officer was not concerned about any delay jeopardizing the evidence. As a result, the defendant’s challenge was that it violation of his 4th Amendment Rights against unreasonable search and seizures.

The lower court suppressed the DUI blood test evidence, and the Missouri Supreme Court sided affirmed the lower trial court’s ruling. The US Supreme Court is expected to hear the case in January 2013.

Arizona DUI Blood Test Consent Laws

The Arizona Supreme Court also held that under A.R.S. § 28-1321 the suspect must either expressly consent. In the case of a refusal the e police must have a warrant to administer a blood test. A warrant will be granted, if the police have just cause to believe a motorist was driving impaired due to alcohol or drugs. If the driver refuses the breath test, or does not consent to the blood test, civil penalties will be imposed including a one year loss of driver’s license. The refusal will also be held against them in court. Refusals are perceived as an act of non-cooperation, or that the driver refused because they knew they would test positive for drugs or alcohol.

DUI Defense Attorney Mesa AZ

If you were arrested for any DUI you will need to address both the Civil Court penalties and the Criminal Court charges. You should always consult a qualified Criminal attorney before pleading guilty to a drunk driving or DUI charges. In addition to civil penalties, sentencing for convictions also include jail; fines, fees, assessment costs, drug or alcohol screening, and use of Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on your vehicle. If retained, your attorney will represent you, defend your charges, make sure your rights are not violated, and work to get the best resolution in your case.

Additional Resources:

US Supreme Court Docket – Missouri, Petitioner v. Tyler G. McNeely

Arizona State Legislature – Implied Consent Laws

Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Programs

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