Supreme Court Accepts Another DUI Case

Today the Supreme Court granted certiorari sought by Missouri in Missouri v. McNeely. McNeely was suspected of DUI when police had blood withdrawn without a warrant. The Supreme Court of Missouri held that a warrant was required when the facts fell outside the narrow exception created in Schmerber v. California. See State v. McNeely.

Schmerber allowed a seizure of blood without a warrant due to the exigency created by dissipation of alcohol in the blood where an accident occurred and the suspected driver was taken to the hospital. The Supreme Court said:

We thus conclude that the present record shows no violation of petitioner’s right under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures. It bears repeating, however, that we reach this judgment only on the facts of the present record. The integrity of an individual’s person is a cherished value of our society. That we today hold that the Constitution does not forbid the States minor intrusions into an individual’s body under stringently limited conditions in no way indicates that it permits more substantial intrusions, or intrusions under other conditions.

Since McNeely was not in an accident and was not taken to the hospital the Supreme Court of Missouri affirmed the trial court’s holding that a warrant was required.

The question to be addressed by the Supreme Court is whether to uphold the Missouri Supreme Court’s conclusion:

The patrolman here, however, was not faced with the “special facts” of Schmerber. Because there was no accident to investigate and there was no need to arrange for the medical treatment of any occupants, there was no delay that would threaten the destruction of evidence before a warrant could be obtained. Additionally, there was no evidence here that the patrolman would have been unable to obtain a warrant had he attempted to do so. The sole special fact present in this case, that blood-alcohol levels dissipate after drinking ceases, is not a per se exigency pursuant to Schmerber justifying an officer to order a blood test without obtaining a warrant from a neutral judge.

If you are facing criminal or traffic charges in Maryland state or
federal court, call Leonard R. Stamm of Goldstein
& Stamm, P.A. at 301-345-0122 for a free consultation.

Leonard R. Stamm
Goldstein & Stamm, P.A.
6301 Ivy Lane, Suite 504
Greenbelt, MD 20770
(fax) 301-441-4652

Author: West’s Maryland DUI Law


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