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Getting Warrants for Blood: the Future of DUI/DWI Cases

Posted on Jul 28, 2016 in Drugs, DUI/DWI, Local Issues, Traffic

It used to be standard advice to decline a Breathalyzer test in the event you are pulled over for drunk driving. While that advice still stands today in many cases, police may have another route of proving your intoxication. On June 23, 2016, in the case of Birchfield v. North Dakota, the Supreme Court ruled police officers must request a warrant to obtain blood samples from alleged impaired drivers. As police aim to prevent drinking and driving, they believe that blood warrants will be the “ultimate deterrent.” With repeat offenders on the rise, blood warrants and "No Refusal Weekends"  will ideally bring those numbers down. Now, more citizens are refusing the Breathalyzer, forcing police are to turn to blood warrants, getting them approved in just a few minutes and, in some cases, drawing the blood themselves. In order to obtain a warrant, a police officer needs probable cause. Given that law enforcement understand the criteria needed for probable cause in a DUI case, they can simply note the observed behavior, like red eyes, slurring, smell of alcohol, and send a warrant to the judge on call, where it almost always gets signed. Are these nearly automatic warrants a violation of our liberties or do they have legitimate grounds in keeping unsafe drivers off the roads? Given that blood tests are the “golden standard” for evidence, especially more so than results of a Breathalyzer, it seems like this method will be used for the foreseeable future.

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