United States Supreme Court Rules that Warrant Is Required Before DUI Blood Draw

According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2,597 people were killed in United States traffic accidents in December 2010. Of those, 775 deaths involved alcohol-impaired drivers. A 2006 study by the NHTSA estimated that there is one drunk driving fatality in the United States every 30 minutes.

Georgia's Driving Under the Influence Laws are complex. Georgia DUI injury attorney Shane Smith can sort through the intermingled laws that potentially create complications in a DUI case.

The U.S. Supreme Court placed restrictions on a police officer's ability to forcibly draw blood from a DUI suspect. It held that police must obtain a valid search warrant before they collect a blood sample from a suspected drunk driver who has not consented to the search.

The case originated from an arrest in another state where a suspected drunk driver refused an alcohol breath test. The driver failed a roadside sobriety test and was taken to a hospital where his blood was taken against his will.

The state argued that warrants should not be required because evidence of blood alcohol content dissipates quickly. The state claimed that a suspect's body may metabolize enough alcohol to bring a blood alcohol content below the legal limit by the time a warrant is acquired and blood can be drawn.

In her majority opinion, Justice Sonya Sotomayor noted that cellphones and e-mail can expedite the obtaining of a valid warrant. She also said that police could move forward without a warrant in emergency situations and later attempt to justify their actions in court.

Justice Clarence Thomas was the only dissenting vote. He agreed with the alcohol dissipation argument and believed it gave police the authority to conduct a search without a warrant.

If you have questions about Georgia DUI laws, get the answers in Clayton County DUI injury attorney Shane Smith's book, I Was Hit By a Drunk Driver: What Do I Do Next? Contact Shane Smith Law to schedule a free legal consultation.

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