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Supreme Court: forced blood tests in drunk-driving cases not always OK

The Supreme Court decision Wednesday means that sometimes police will need to obtain a warrant in drunk-driving cases before administering a forced blood test – and that sometimes they won’t.

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The US Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to create a categorical rule that would have allowed police to force drunken drivers to submit to a blood test without first obtaining a warrant from a neutral judge.

Instead, the majority justices said police cannot automatically rely on the dissipation of a drunken-driving suspect’s blood-alcohol level to justify police action without a warrant.

In a 5-to-4 decision, Justice Sonia Sotomayor rejected an argument made by Missouri officials that police in the state were entitled to force DUI arrestees to undergo warrantless blood tests.

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State officials said that the dissipation of a suspect’s blood-alcohol level through metabolism marked the ongoing destruction of evidence and created an exigency that justified fast police action without a warrant.

The majority justices disagreed.


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