Forced Blood Draw and DUIs

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Recently, the United States Supreme Court provided another victory for defense counsel when it comes to defending DUIs. In Missouri vs. McNeely, the court held that police officers cannot force a blood draw without a warrant.

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In the opinion, the Court affirmatively held that the normal dissipation of alcohol in the blood stream is insufficient to create a per se exigent circumstance allowing police officers to forego the warrant requirement. Basically, the position asserted by the police and prosecuting agencies is that the dissipation of alcohol equated to the destruction of evidence. And therefore, this potential loss of evidence created an exigent circumstance that negated the need for a warrant.

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This does not mean in every case the police officers will be required to obtain a warrant prior to forcing a blood draw. However, the Supreme Court held that this must be determined on a case by case basis. And, that there must exist additional circumstances beyond that of a routine DUI stop to justify a police officer dispensing with the need to obtain proper warrant prior to the forced blood draw. Some of these factors my include whether a person was seriously injured or killed as a result of a DUI that resulted in an accident.

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This appears to be a clear victory for defense counsel at the moment. And it makes sense. Sticking a needle in someone’s arm by force to obtain a blood draw seems to be a clear 4th amendment violation. However, how the Nevada courts interpret and apply this case law remains to be seen.

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