Is a warrant always needed for blood draws in DUI or OWI cases?

Is a warrant always needed for blood draws in DUI or OWI cases?

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The answer is no!! In the case of Missouri v McNeely, the United States Supreme Court decided that the natural dissipation of alcohol in the blood may support a finding of urgency in a specific case, but it does not do so in every case. Courts must evaluate each case to determine if a warrant was required to draw blood.

Mr. McNeely was stopped for suspected operating under the influence of alcohol. He refused to take the roadside breath test and, while on the way to the police station, indicated he would not take the test there. The police officer took him directly to the hospital and blood was drawn from Mr. McNeely without a warrant. The blood results showed Mr. McNeely was intoxicated and he was charged with operating while impaired. The defendant moved to have the test results suppressed and the trial court agreed. The trial court determined that the, “exigency exception to the warrant requirement did not apply because, apart from the fact that as in all intoxication cases, the defendant’s blood alcohol was being metabolized by his liver, there were no circumstances suggesting the officer faced an emergency in which he could not practicably obtain a warrant.”

So, depending on the level of urgency, a police officer may be able have a blood draw in DWI cases without a warrant. Courts must now evaluate that question on a case by case basis.

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