The case, which the Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday, pits the requirements of the Fourth Amendment against the need for effective enforcement of drunk-driving laws nationwide.
US Supreme Court justices grappled on Wednesday with whether police should be permitted to force suspected drunken drivers to submit to a blood test without first obtaining the approval of a neutral judge.
At issue in the case is whether law enforcement officials should be allowed to bypass the usual warrant requirement because any delay in collecting a blood-alcohol sample would permit the ongoing destruction of evidence through metabolism.
John Koester, an assistant prosecuting attorney in Jackson, Mo., urged the court to establish a new rule that would allow police to force suspected drunken drivers who refuse to submit to a roadside breathalyzer test to undergo a forced extraction of blood to conduct a blood-alcohol test.
The case, Missouri v. Tyler McNeely (11-1425), pits the requirements of the Fourth Amendment against the need for effective enforcement of drunken-driving laws nationwide.
In 2010, driving while intoxicated resulted in 10,228 deaths – roughly one every 52 minutes, according to the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
At its most basic, the Fourth Amendment requires that Americans be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.