A recent policy mandated in St. Louis will make it harder for those accused of driving under the influence of alcohol to resist submitting to a blood test. St. Louis officers are now required to issue a search warrant before giving blood tests to suspected drunk drivers. This comes after a 2012 report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that one in five drivers suspected of driving while drinking refuse to take a Breathalyzer test. About half of the approximately twenty to twenty-five DUI arrests made by St. Louis officers each month end in a refusal. While policy-makers are insistent that the new rule will help to convict those who have multiple DUI offenses, the American Civil Liberties Union is watching to ensure that the policy doesn't infringe on basic rights.

No Refusal Zone

The new "No Refusal Zone" policy will allow officers to transport suspected drunk drivers to a local area station where they will be offered a Breathalyzer test. If the suspect refuses the Breathalyzer, the officers are able to seek a search warrant, enabling them to take a blood sample from the suspect. The warrant is obtained electronically, which hastens the process. Once issued, the warrant will allow officers to take the suspect to an area hospital where the blood test will be administered. The entire process could last anywhere from sixty to ninety minutes.

Challenges to the rule

Civil liberty organizations want to make sure that there is appropriate probable cause present before warrants are sought after and awarded. Prior to this policy, St. Louis officers were challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union on a case where a driver was made to submit to a blood test with no warrant present.

After a suspected drunk driver was pulled over by a Missouri Highway Patrol trooper, he refused a Breathalyzer test and the subsequent blood test. Without a warrant or consent of the motorist, the officer ordered the blood test. Although the results proved that the motorist's blood-alcohol content level was above the 0.08 percent legal limit, the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately threw out the case because there was no warrant issued.

Protect your rights

If you are pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence, it is important to keep the following in mind in order to protect your rights:

  • Have your driver's license, insurance and registration organized in your vehicle so they are easy to find should you get pulled over. Not having the appropriate documentation may give the officer probable cause to investigate further.
  • Be polite. Arguing with the officer may complicate matters.
  • Don't answer any questions or give out information, including whether or not you've had a few drinks.
  • The police must have probable cause to request a Breathalyzer test and to have a warrant issued for a blood test.

You can help to strengthen your case by following these simple tips. Be sure to call an experienced DUI attorney to ensure that your rights are protected.

Partner with a professional

A DUI conviction can follow you around for years, infringing on all aspects of your life. Partner with a reputable St. Louis DUI lawyer to maximize the chances of having a successful outcome in you case.

Travis Noble is a graduate of the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard University, and he lectures at seminars nationwide on DWI/DUI topics. He is the lawyer whom other lawyers consult to defend their DWI clients. Most importantly, he has a track record of successfully defending some of the toughest DWI cases in Missouri and beyond.

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