Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling that blood cannot be drawn from nonconsenting drunken driving suspects without a search warrant or special circumstances is expected to have a large impact in many states, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Prosecutors are scrambling to interpret how the decision might affect drunken-driving enforcement. Its bottom line seems to be that every case will depend on its own facts, and warrantless blood draws may well be OK in some case while not in others.
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said 21 states require warrants for blood draws and nevertheless successfully prosecute thousands of drunken drivers. Nathan Dineen, a lawyer who specializes in drunk-driving defense, called the warrant requirement “an important gate-keeping function, one which will guard against an officer observing a driver and thinking, ‘Well, I think he/she is impaired [ ] let’s take them for a blood test to find out.’ ” The decision will likely lead to more work for police, prosecutors, and judges in the middle of the night, when most drunk-driving cases occur, said Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel.