If you've recently been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) after consenting to a breathalyzer test but declining to have your blood drawn at an area hospital, you may have been surprised to find an additional criminal charge listed on your charging documents. In some states, refusing a blood draw after being arrested for DUI is a criminal offense; in others, police can require defendants to submit to a blood test even without a warrant. However, a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling could potentially void any criminal charges levied against you for your refusal to take a blood test. Read on to learn more about how this decision may affect your case and what you can do.
What aspect of existing criminal law did the Supreme Court's decision change?
On June 23, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision addressing state laws that criminalize a defendant's refusal to provide a blood sample to police following a DUI stop or arrest. This decision held that such a request (in the absence of a verified search warrant) constituted an unlawful search or seizure, in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and that these state laws were therefore unconstitutional. States with these now-unconstitutional laws on the books will be required to repeal these laws and immediately stop their enforcement.
While police are still constitutionally able to require drivers to undergo field sobriety tests or to take a breathalyzer test to get a preliminary determination of their blood alcohol content, requiring a defendant to submit to a blood test without a search warrant is no longer permissible.
How might this decision affect your pending case?
If you've been charged with failing to provide a blood sample, this decision will likely result in the dismissal of these charges. Because the Supreme Court has firmly stated that such laws are unconstitutional, they can no longer be enforced against criminal defendants, even if the law was in place and valid at the time of your arrest.
However, if the police officer who requested your blood sample did obtain a search warrant prior to this request, and you continued to refuse to provide a sample, it's unlikely that your charges will be dismissed. The Supreme Court's ruling still gives police the power to enforce search warrants when issued, and your refusal to submit to this "search" (of your blood) can be deemed a criminal offense. Visit http://www.hartlawofficespc.net for more information.