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Did police have a warrant for your BAC blood draw?

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2018 | Firm News

Did a failed DUI test land you in jail and charged with driving under the influence? Did police have a warrant to perform the test? Up until the last couple of years, police officers across the country, including here in Pennsylvania, had the ability to perform blood-alcohol level blood draws without a warrant. Thanks to a ruling by the Supreme Court, that is no longer the case.

This ruling came about after individuals charged with DUI questioned their state’s implied consent laws. The attorneys for the states fought that the implied consent law requires people to consent to sobriety testing. Prosecutors went on to say that no warrant is needed and refusing these tests could provide evidence against an accused individual in court. The plaintiffs argued that performing these tests without a warrant was a violation of a person’s constitutional rights. The Supreme Court sided with the plaintiff.

How does this change how officers do their jobs?

Law enforcement officials are not happy with this change because it does make police officers’ jobs more difficult. The Supreme Court ruling does only apply to blood draw BAC testing, but achieving a warrant at all hours of the day is not always easy. The reason BAC blood testing was singled out by the Supreme Court is that it is deemed more invasive than other types of sobriety testing.

Because of this ruling, law enforcement agencies had to purchase Breathalyzer equipment if they did not already have it. Officers do not need a warrant for standard field sobriety testing or breath testing. However, they do have to allow people to refuse these tests if they want to. Prosecutors cannot use a refusal against individuals in court, but there are administrative consequences for refusing sobriety testing.

What does this mean for those charged with DUI in Pennsylvania?

Aside from informing people that they do have the right to assert their Fourth Amendment rights during a DUI traffic stop, according to various sources, as part of this ruling, certain consequences associated with DUI charges have been reduced. Legal counsel can offer more information on this. 

Fight your DUI charge, fight DUI test results

If you did not refuse DUI testing and a failed test resulted in your arrest, you can try to fight the charge and fight the test results. A criminal defense attorney can inform you of your legal options and plan your defense. If by chance the officer performed a BAC blood draw without obtaining a warrant first, that is now grounds to have the test results thrown out, which can certainly contribute to your defense.

Pennsylvania Drunk Driving Defense: Law, Tactics, and Procedure | by Patrick F. Lauer, Jr. | Revere Legal Publishers