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Supreme Court hears case involving testing without a warrant

On Behalf of | Apr 21, 2016 | Drunk Driving

Kentucky residents may be interested to know that in 13 states, it is illegal to refuse to take a blood or breath test during a traffic stop even if there is no warrant. On April 20, several justices on the Supreme Court said that compelling compliance to such a request was asking for a significant exception to the Fourth Amendment. However, they did note that the law had good intentions, especially in rural states where drinking and driving is a larger issue.

Despite their skepticism, several of the justices were considering allowing Breathalyzer tests to continue without a warrant. The reasoning is that they are a minimal intrusion for those asked to provide a breath sample. Despite this, they still would require a warrant before a blood or urine test takes place. Failure to do so could be a violation of the Fourth Amendment according to the court.

Previous Supreme Court rulings have limited what police can do during a traffic stop without a warrant. One ruling said that police could not search a driver or a car unless the officer feared for his or her safety or to preserve evidence of a crime. A 2013 ruling said that officers could not conduct a blood test without a warrant. This is what led to the legal challenge of state laws making refusal without a warrant a crime.

Individuals who receive a DUI charge face a variety of penalties if convicted, including fines and potential jail time. A criminal defense attorney could fight these charges by arguing that the traffic stop that led to the arrest was made with no probable cause. Another line of defense could be a challenge to the administration of roadside sobriety or breath tests.