Supreme Court Rules That Warrant Needed for DUI Blood Tests

In an 8 to 1 rulDUIing, the United States Supreme Court ruled that police should try to obtain a warrant from a Judge before forcing a citizen to submit to a blood test when it comes to a DUI.  This is a case that could have national implications that go beyond just DUI cases.  The case involved Tyler McNeeley, who was pulled over by a Missouri police officer who suspected that he had been operating his vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.  McNeeley, who had two previous DUI cases, refused to submit to a breath test when the request was made by the arresting police officer.  The Missouri officer, who was a Missouri State Trooper, took McNeeley to a local hospital, instead of first obtaining a warrant from a judge, and had McNeeley’s blood drawn.  The blood draw indicated that McNeeley blood alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit.  The Missouri Supreme Court had previously ruled that the blood draw violated the Missouri State Constitution.  On Wednesday, 8 Justices on the United States Supreme Court found that there was no sufficient reason to dispense with the requirement that police first obtain a warrant before having a blood sample forcibly drawn from a driver’s arm.  The Court seemed to leave open the possibility that the police could draw blood without a warrant if a true emergency was present. But absent a showing of a true emergency, either the driver will consent or the police need to get a warrant.  In Illinois a refusal to submit to a blood alcohol test will subject the driver to a one year suspension of their driver’s license.

This decision leaves unanswered what affect this will have on state laws which have been enacted to deal with driver’s who are pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence of cannabis.  The only way to determine whether they are high on cannabis is to take a blood test.

James Dimeas is an award winning Chicago criminal defense attorney and author with more than 23 years of experience aggressively representing his clients in DUI and Cannabis cases.  If you have a DUI or Cannabis case in Illinois, contact me in Chicago (312-229-5500), DuPage and Kane (630-504-2096) or Lake (847-696-6458) for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal options.

Additional Resources:

Missouri v. McNeeley, No. 11-425, 2013.