Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Warrantless DUI Tests

This week the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a Missouri DUI case which raises some interesting issues.  Two years ago, in the early morning hours, Tyler McNeely was pulled over by a Missouri State Trooper.  The Officer suspected that McNeely had been drinking so he performed the usual field sobriety tests and requested that McNeely take a blood alcohol test.  McNeely refused so the Officer placed handcuffs on McNeely, placed him in the back of his squad car, took him to a local hospital and had a nurse draw blood from McNeely while McNeely was restrained.  The blood draw revealed that McNeely’s blood alcohol level was nearly two times the legal limit and McNeely was charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI).  At trial McNeely challenged the blood draw on the basis that it violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.  The trial court sided with McNeely and the state appealed to the Missouri Court of Appeals.  The Court of Appeals send the case directly to the Missouri Supreme Court and the Missouri Supreme Court also sided with McNeely.  The state appealed to the United States Supreme Court and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.  The State of Missouri is being joined by the Obama administration. The government is arguing that while the Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures, the time required to obtain a warrant would allow or a “destruction of the evidence” which requires that the evidence be obtained quickly. The government believes that once the police have probable cause to believe that someone has been drinking and driving then it is reasonable for the police to obtain the evidence before it is gone.  McNeely and his supporters disagree and point out that there has been no showing that a warrant could not be obtained in a timely fashion and that the government overlooks the affront to a person’s dignity that occurs when a needle is stuck in their arm against their wishes by the government.

James Dimeas is an award winning criminal defense attorney and author with more than 23 years of experience aggressively representing his clients in felony cases.  If you have a felony 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.