Supreme Court weighs in on driving while intoxicated case

Many of our Ann Arbor readers probably know what would take place during a DUI stop. The term "breathalyzer" is commonly used in reference to the breath test a police officer can conduct during a traffic stop if there is a suspicion that a driver is operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. If a person's blood alcohol content level registers higher than the legal limit during this type of test, the police have probable cause to arrest a driver and slap them with a DUI charge. In Michigan, an extremely high BAC level will evoke the newer "Super Drunk" law, with the potential for increased penalties. However, breath tests are not the only way that law enforcement officials can test a person's BAC.Although less common in most areas, blood draws are sometimes required during a drunk driving investigation. Blood draws are commonly conducted when a person either refuses to cooperate with a breath test or perhaps is simply too intoxicated to take the test. What many people in Ann Arbor may not know, however, is that this type of BAC test is considered to be a type of search, protected by individual rights detailed in the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.This very concept came up for review before the Supreme Court of the United States recently. The case in question involved an individual who had his blood drawn without a warrant. His BAC level subsequently tested far above the legal limit in his state. The man challenged the fact that the blood draw was done without a warrant - and the Court sided with him. Eight of the nine Supreme Court justices agreed with the man that a warrantless blood draw is a violation of a person's constitutional rights.Driving while intoxicated may seem like a minor charge to some people, but many states are taking extra steps to punish individuals convicted with aggravating circumstances in their case. Multiple offenses can result in increased penalties, as can extremely high BAC levels. Fighting a case when there is an opportunity is important to avoid these enhanced penalties.Source: The Detroit News, "Supreme Court rejects routine no-warrant DUI blood tests," April 17, 2013
Categories: Articles

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