© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Supreme Court Rules Police Must Get Search Warrant For Most DUI Blood Tests

The United States Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police must obtain a search warrant to draw blood in routine drunk driving arrests.

The case stems from a 2010 drunk driving arrest in Cape Girardeau. At question is whether a Missouri Highway Patrol Officer violated Tyler McNeely’s protection from unreasonable search and seizure when he drew McNeely’s blood with neither a warrant nor his permission.

Missouri prosecutors argue that alcohol dissolves in the bloodstream while officers wait for a warrant, thus destroying evidence. The high court ruled in McNeely’s favor, but pulled up short of banning all unwarranted blood tests.

Tony Rothert is the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri. He says the decision requires police officers to consider all circumstances during a drunk driving arrest when deciding if a warrant is necessary.

“Half the states already prohibit blood draws without consent and without a warrant. And now absent true emergency circumstances, that will be the rule throughout the country.”

The state of Missouri argued that alcohol dissipates in the blood stream while officers await a warrant, thus destroying evidence.

Missouri Prosecutors Association president Eric Zahnd says the court refused to specify under which circumstances warrantless blood draws are permissible.

“The question of whether warrantless blood tests of a drunk driving suspect is permissible will continue to be determined on a case-by-case basis. The good news is such tests will remain an arrow in the quiver of law enforcement in appropriate circumstances.”

Warrantless blood tests are permissible under certain conditions, such as in collisions.

Jake is a 2000 graduate of Southeast Missouri State University. As Host Producer, McCleland coordinates all of KRCU's local programming; he works with hosts, producers, and audio engineers to enhance the quality of in-studio productions. Additionally, McCleland works with station staff and community volunteers to develop new ideas for programming on KRCU. He also records and produces feature stories that are heard locally during Morning Edition and All Thing Considered.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.