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Supreme Court Rules Blood Tests Require Warrant, Breath Tests Do Not

The US Supreme Court recently came to a ruling in the controversial Birchfield v. North Dakota case dealing with implied consent laws in DUI arrest cases.

The new ruling now requires police officers to obtain a search warrant in order to take a chemical blood test from individuals arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, while maintaining that chemical breath tests do not require law enforcement officers to obtain a warrant.

This recent decision by the US Supreme Court, decided on June, 23rd, 2016, will have a major impact on thousands of pending DUI cases involving chemical blood tests throughout the nation as prosecutors must now review those cases.

Learn more about dram shop law and liabilities from our team of experienced attorneys.

Implied Consent Laws: Before & After The Supreme Court Ruling

The Birchfield v. North Dakota case was brought to trial as a result of several DUI arrest cases in North Dakota and Minnesota involving the States’ controversial implied consent laws. These laws required individuals arrested on suspicion of DUI to submit to chemical breath tests and chemical blood tests for the purpose of determining blood alcohol concentration.

Furthermore, the implied consent laws required drivers arrested on DUI charges to submit to these chemical tests regardless of whether or not police officers had obtained a warrant; something that opponents of implied consent laws have argued to be unconstitutional for years.

By refusing to submit to a chemical blood or breath test after a DUI arrest, drivers in North Dakota (and in many other states) typically face a minimum 1 year license revocation even if the individual is not convicted of DUI-related charges at the end of the day.

How Does This Affect DUI Laws In Pennsylvania Going Forward?

Before the recent ruling in Birchfield v. North Dakota, an individual in the State of Pennsylvania would have been obligated to submit to a chemical blood test if asked to do so after being arrested on DUI-related charges, even if officers did not have a warrant.

But after the Supreme Court’s recent decision, police officers must now obtain a warrant before administering a chemical blood test. It is important to know, however, that drivers arrested for DUI are still required to submit to chemical breath test, even if the police officers do not obtain a warrant.

Prosecutors are now reviewing hundreds of pending DUI cases in Pennsylvania involving chemical blood testing. Those who submitted to chemical blood tests after being arrested on suspicion of DUI in Pennsylvania may now be able to challenge the use of any evidence that may have been obtained via chemical blood testing in their cases. Additionally, DUI defense attorneys can now protect clients arrested on DUI charges from facing a 1 year license suspension if they refused to submit to a blood test without a police warrant.

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David Petrone
Date Published: July 29, 2022
David Petrone is a personal injury attorney at Justice Guardians.
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