SCOTUS to Decide Warrantless Blood Tests for DUI

Can a person suspected of drunk driving be compelled to submit to a blood test without a warrant?  That is the question before the U. S. Supreme Court today.

Blood Draw by Joshua/Yoon Hernandez at Flickr Creative Common

In October of 2010, a Missouri man, Tyler McNeely, was stopped by the  Missouri State Highway Patrol for speeding, after having a beer at a local bar.  Noticing signs of intoxication, the patrolman requested McNeely to submit to an alcohol breath test or blood test, which he refused.

After arresting McNeely,  Cpl. Mark Winder decided to take McNeely to the hospital for a blood test to “secure evidence of intoxication,” without first obtaining a warrant.

That nonconsensual blood test — considered a “search” in legalese — is at issue in front of the Supreme Court, which is expected to clarify when and under what circumstances a warrantless search can occur in such cases.

In court papers, lawyers for Missouri say that Winder didn’t attempt to obtain a search warrant prior to the blood test in part because, “Obtaining a search warrant in the middle of the night in Cape Girardeau County involves a delay, on average, of approximately two hours.”

Winder was concerned about the rate of elimination of alcohol in the bloodstream, which diminishes over time.

It turns out McNeely’s blood alcohol level was 0.154 percent, well above the legal limit of 0.08 percent . In court, McNeely moved to suppress the evidence against him, saying his constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure were violated.

The trial court agreed with McNeely and found that “the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream alone was not a sufficient factor to justify a warrantless blood draw in a routine stop.”  The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s decision.  The Supreme Court will hear the case today.

Read the entire story by Ariane De Vogue at ABC.com.

If you believe your constitutional rights have been violated, the Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association can refer you to attorneys who specifically handle civil rights violations.  Call 603-229-0002 or submit an online referral request.

 

 

 

 

Bill Would Eliminate Sobriety Checkpoints

Sobriety checkpoints used to catch drunk drivers, organized by NH police departments would be eliminated by NH House Bill 1452.  A hearing is scheduled for Thursday, February 2 at 11 am., as reported by Matthew Spolar of the Concord Monitor.

“My concern is we’re giving up our right to travel freely,” said Republican Rep. George Lambert of Litchfield, a co-sponsor of the bill. “It allows (the police) to do all kinds of investigations for which they did not have original probable cause.”

Lambert and Rep. Seth Cohn of Canterbury, also a freshman Republican, see the checkpoints as running counter to the Fourth Amendment’s barring of unreasonable search and seizures. Cohn said the checkpoints give law enforcement “carte blanche to stop people ostensibly for sobriety.”

Read the full story.

Whether you are arrested at a check point or you’re pulled over on the road, you should not face a DUI on your own.  A lawyer can make a difference!  Call the Lawyer Referral Service of the NH Bar Association for a referral to a competent attorney who specifically handles DUI cases.  603-229-0002 or request an online referral

24 DUI Arrests Over the New Year’s Holiday in NH

New Hampshire State Police said that troopers arrested 24 people for driving while intoxicated over the New Year’s holiday weekend, as reported by WMUR.  11 drivers were also arrested for driving after suspension and 45 other criminal arrests were made.

Read more: http://www.wmur.com/news/30122394/detail.html#ixzz1iPRwiUb7

If you are arrested for DUI or any other criminal offense, call the NH Lawyer Referral Service for a referral to a competent attorney who handles DUI’s and other criminal matters at 603-229-0002, or request an online referral.   Losing your license or being convicted of a crime can have a devastating effect on your employment and other aspects of your life.  Having an attorney represent you can make a big difference.   Contact LRS today!

 

LawLine: Free Legal Advice – 800-868-1212

Do you have a BRIEF LEGAL QUESTION? LawLine, the NH Bar Association’s free legal hotline is held on the second Wednesday of each month, from 6 – 8 pm.

Volunteer New Hampshire attorneys will take calls from the public and will give brief legal information and advice. This is a FREE public service. Call 1-800-868-1212.

Do you have more than a brief legal question and suspect you may need an attorney to represent you?  The NH Lawyer Referral Service can refer you to a competent local  attorney who handles your type of legal matter.  Call (603) 229-0002 today or fill out the Lawyer Referral Service request form at:  https://www.newhampshirelawyerreferral.com/contact-us.