Missouri vs. McNeely: Blood Tests, Warrants & DUI/OVI


Last week, the Supreme Court Justices listened to oral arguments regarding warrantless blood tests in DUI/OVI cases. The ruling in Missouri vs. McNeely will play a significant role in how some Columbus Police Officers conduct their OVI investigations.

Recently, I have had several cases where Columbus Police Officers forcibly withdrew blood without obtaining a warrant. The officers reference a 1966 Supreme Court case where the court said no warrant was required to take blood without the driver's consent. In California vs. Schmerber (1966), the court reasoned that alcohol levels diminish over time and the evidence would no longer exist if the officers tried to obtain a warrant. However, the Supreme Court specifically stated that the determination should be a factual case by case decision. I always argued that with today's technology it is easy to obtain a search warrant and one must always be required in Ohio on 1st or 2nd OVI/DUI case.

I listened to Oral Arguments. I noticed that several justices expressed concern for this type of personal invasion. The image of a police officer holding a down a suspect or strapping down a suspects arm to puncture their bodies with sharp needles comes to mind. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. called this practice "pretty scary". Given these comments I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will protect the Fourth Amendment benefit by having a neutral and detached magistrate review the evidence before law enforcement officers start pricking individuals with needles.

I expect a decision this summer. Stay tuned . . .