Wisconsin Supreme Court Weighs Constitutionality of Blood Testing Unconscious Driver

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The consequential debate over implied consent laws continued in the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday with arguments in a case involving an unconscious driver in the hospital who had her blood drawn and tested for alcohol content by police without securing a warrant, reports the Courthouse News Service. The defendant, Dawn Prado, was involved in a crash that left her severely injured and took the other driver’s life. The officer, believing he was acting in good faith according to the law, drew her blood without getting a warrant, and the analysis revealed a controlled substance and an unlawful concentration of alcohol. Prado later moved to suppress the blood test results on the grounds that the law’s incapacitated driver provision is unconstitutional. The trial court granted the motion after determining the officer did not have the authority to draw Prado’s blood without a warrant.

A Wisconsin appeals court declared the law unconstitutional last summer but ruled that in Prado’s case the officer had acted in good faith with the understanding that the law was constitutional, so the trial court should not have suppressed her test results. Assistant Attorney General Michael Sanders emphasized that the controlling case law decided by the U.S. Supreme Court makes Prado’s blood draw constitutional and that the only thing the state high court really needs to settle is whether the test results should have been suppressed. Madison-based attorney Anthony Jurek countered on behalf of Prado that the generally unsound good faith exception should not apply to his client’s case and that the entire case rests on unsettled law. He charged that the law gives unconscious citizens fewer protections than conscious ones and effectively allows the legislature to unconstitutionally consent on behalf of citizens.

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