Today appears to have been an interesting day for oral arguments in the United States Supreme Court, affectionately also known as SCOTUS.
Oral arguments were presented today on the appeal by the State of Missouri regarding the issue of whether police must obtain a search warrant or court order in a DUI arrest to draw blood from a person who refuses to submit to testing.
This issue is relevant to all states and lawyers including a DUI lawyer in Charleston, SC and I have been following this appeal for that reason.
Among the arguments offered by Missouri lawyers was that “exigent” or emergency circumstances existed in such factual settings creating an exception to the warrant requirement.
In other words, a person’s blood alcohol concentration or BAC after being arrested for DUI diminished over time as metabolized by the body. They argued that due to this factor, the ability to collect incriminating evidence in DUI cases would be hindered by having to go to the “trouble” of pursuing the process of applying for and obtaining a court order or search warrant from a judge.
Interestingly, the record in this appeal reflected that the track record for the police didn’t’ t support this argument. Turns out that for the Missouri police involved in the case from which this appeal was taken had few difficulties in obtaining judicial approval to order that the withdrawal of blood from a driver. Missouri judges were on call and readily available. It appeared that the police experienced little delay in having a judge review the submitted probable cause for the forceful invasion of a driver’s body, and, it seems were rarely refused warrants.
News reports such as that provided here in the link below indicate that, based on the questions the justices peppered the Missouri lawyers with during their oral argument, it appeared that the Court was not inclined to think that this factual situation was “exigent” enough to abandon the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement. As is normal procedure, the Court’s opinion is not announced at argument but will be forthcoming when their written opinion is published.
If these predictions are correct, this is a significant event in constitutional law, for criminal defense advocates and preserving citizens’ individual rights.
A requirement that a readily available, neutral and detached judicial officer make such a call is not too much to ask, particularly when it does not appear that the state’s ability to prosecute a DUI case is diminished..
Click on this link to read the story for yourself.
Tim Kulp, Charleston DUI Defense Lawyers represents drivers arrested for DUI and DUAC in Charleston, North Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Summerville, Goose Creek, Hanahan, Moncks Corner, Ladson, James Island, West Ashley, Folly Beach, Sullivans Island, Isle of Palms, Awendaw, McClellanville and the surrounding areas.