U.S. Supreme Court to Rule on Drunk Driving Tests

The court will consider whether it is lawful for states to charge an individual with a crime when the person has refused to submit to a blood or alcohol test for drunk driving and whether law enforcement officers can administer a blood or breath test for drunk driving with no search warrant.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Dec. 11 to consider whether it is lawful for states to charge an individual with a crime when the person has refused to submit to a blood or alcohol test for drunk driving. The high court agreed to review three related cases, two from North Dakota and one from Minnesota, that raise the question, as well as whether law enforcement officers can administer a blood or breath test for drunk driving without a search warrant.

Lyle Denniston, a veteran reporter on the Supreme Court who writes for the www.scotusblog.com website, reported that the cases accepted by the court involve either a blood test or a breath test, and that 13 states make it a crime to refuse to take a drunk driving test.

He reported that lawyers involved in the cases accepted by the court said appeals of DUI convictions are arising more frequently since the Supreme Court decided a case named Missouri v. McNeely in April 2013, "which left the clear impression that, if police have enough time, they should get a warrant before taking a test of a suspected drunk driver," Denniston explained. "The Court ruled that the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream does not always amount to an emergency situation that permits a DUI test without a warrant."

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