In a 5-4 case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a warrant is not generally needed to draw blood from an unconscious person suspected of DUI. In the case of Mitchell v. Wisconsin, the Court's Opinion stated that police are almost always allowed to order a blood draw from an unconscious driver without a warrant when they have probable case to believe the person was driving drunk.
The Court found justification in the "exigent circumstances" exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment. This exception allows evidence to be seized or searched without a warrant under the reasoning that it would prevent the destruction of relevant evidence, the escape of the suspect, or some other consequence that would improperly frustrate legitimate law enforcement efforts. The Court ruled that the natural dissipation of alcohol from a suspect's blood was enough justification to seize the blood prior to obtaining a warrant.
The case involved a man charged with DUI in Wisconsin after a report was made about a man driving erratically and appearing drunk. Once pulled over, a preliminary breath test showed him to be triple the legal limit. By the time officers brought him back to the station, he was too slow and drowsy to take a breath test so he was taken to the hospital. On the way he passed out, and his blood was taken while he was unconscious.
If you have questions about DUI in Tennessee contact the attorneys at Saenz & Maniatis, PLLC at (615) 366-1211. Se Habla Español.