US Supreme Court Rules on Warrantless Blood Tests

On June 27, 2019, the United States Supreme Court decided Mitchell v. Wisconsin. In this case, the defendant was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated but was unable to give a breath test at the police station due to losing consciousness. Therefore, the police officer drove the defendant to a hospital and requested a blood sample. The blood sample reported a BAC level of 0.222% and the defendant was convicted.

The United States Supreme Court vacated the conviction and remanded the case for further determination. In doing so, the Court held that a warrantless blood test is permissible under the “exigent circumstances” exception to the Fourth Amendment when a driver is unconscious.

This means that the police are exempt from obtaining a warrant before conducting a search if the time it takes to obtain a warrant could risk the destruction of evidence (such as the natural dissipation of alcohol in the blood). However, the Court ruled that the defendant could show that the police had a reasonable opportunity to obtain a warrant before taking a blood sample.

If you have been charged with a DWI or DUI offense as a result of a blood test, do not assume that your only option is to plead guilty. It is critical to speak with a dedicated DWI/DUI attorney as soon as possible about your options.

Jason T. Komninos, Esq. offers free consultations and can be reached at 201-343-4622.