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Breathalyzer test constitutionality challenged

Drivers from Kentucky who get stopped for DUIs in certain other states may be interested to learn that in December 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear multiple cases that called the constitutionality of some drunk driving tests into question. Two of Kentucky’s neighbors, Tennessee and Virginia, are among the thirteen states where police can charge drivers with criminal offenses if they don’t submit to breathalyzer testing. Cases from North Dakota and Minnesota argue that the laws permitting such practices may themselves be illegal.

The legal argument behind the cases is related to a Supreme Court judgement from 2013. According to news sources, that decision held that law enforcement officials usually don’t have the right to search vehicles or drivers unless they possess a warrant or they believe such actions are necessary to protect themselves or secure evidence.

Notably, these cases only pertain to warrantless searches, meaning that drivers who are detained on existing warrants may not see any changes from a new decision. In a court brief, the plaintiffs in the cases maintained that tens or hundreds of thousands of motorists fall afoul of existing laws criminalizing blood alcohol test refusal each year. One of the challenges already lost at the state level Supreme Court, which argued that warrants were properly obtained before tests were demanded.

Charges of driving under the influence can be complex. Motorists could find themselves facing additional criminal indictments for related actions, and the existence of multiple allegations might predispose judges and juries against them. To build the strongest possible defense arguments, these individuals may wish to investigate how the police obtained their evidence and learn about prior cases that are similar to theirs.

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