New Developments in law from the Supreme Court involving a DUI blood test.
In a decision last week, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling which has already started to change the way DUI cases will be prosecuted and defended in Pennsylvania.
In Birchfield v. N. Dakota, the Supreme Court held that a driver placed under arrest under suspicion of DUI may not be subjected to a warrantless blood test to test for alcohol, but may be subjected to a warrantless breath test. The Court held that the DUI blood test is much more intrusive than a breath test, and requires that police obtain a warrant.
Also at issue was whether a driver may be penalized criminally for failure to take a blood test. Since a driver has a constitutional right to refuse a warrantless search, the court’s decision reasoned that such a refusal should not result in increased criminal penalties. However, non-criminal consequences, such as a driver’s license suspension, may still be permitted.
In Pennsylvania, many jurisdictions utilize blood testing in DUI enforcement. In requesting that a motorist consent to a blood draw, the police have been advising motorists that they may refuse, but they face increased penalties if convicted of the Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol after refusing.
This scheme is being challenged in DUI prosecutions across the state as violating the Supreme Court’s ruling which prohibits states from imposing criminal penalties (such as an increased sentence) when individuals refuse a blood test. This case could even impact those who have agreed to take such a test to avoid such increased penalties. Defense lawyers are preparing to file motions to suppress blood test results in many of these cases.
At The Mazza Law Group, the DUI defense lawyers have decades of experience. If you find yourself charged with a DUI or related offense, contact us for a consultation.