United States Supreme Court Rules that Police Need A Search Warrant to Draw Blood from a DWI Suspect April 22, 2013

In Missouri v. McNeely, decided Wednesday, April 17, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the natural dissipation of alcohol by the human body was not a sufficient cause to waive the requirement of a search warrant to obtain a blood sample from a DWI suspect.

The case arose from the arrest of Tyler G. McNeely, who was pulled over for speeding on a Missouri highway and exhibited, the State Supreme Court said, “the telltale signs of intoxication–bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and the smell of alcohol on his breath.” He performed poorly on a field sobriety test and was arrested.

McNeely refused to take a breath test and, after being transported to a hospital, to consent to a blood test. One was performed anyway, about 25 minutes after he was pulled over, and it showed a blood alcohol level of 0.15 percent, almost twice the legal limit.

The state court suppressed the evidence, saying there had been no “exigent circumstances” that excused the failure to obtain a warrant. “Warrantless intrusions of the body are not to be taken lightly,” the Court said in an unsigned opinion.

See the entire opinion here. 

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