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U.S. Supreme Court Rules on Warrantless Blood Draws

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The Highest Court in the Country ruled on Wednesday that law enforcement officers must obtain a search warrant before conducting a nonconsensual blood test in most DUI cases. In Missouri v. McNeely, the authorities stopped Tyler McNeely because they suspected him of driving under the influence. Mr. McNeely refused a breath test, which prompted the officer to take him to the closest hospital so he could give a blood sample.

Missouri v. McNeely clears up Schmerber v. California, a case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1966. McNeely presented the question, does natural metabolization of alcohol in a person's blood produce a per se exigency that warrants an exception to the Fourth Amendment, the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures?

The Court's ruling clarifies that trial courts need to look at each drunk driving case as a whole, making a decision only after considering all the circumstances in totality.