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St. Louis residents should be aware that motorists can legally refuse a breath test if an officer suspects that they are impaired while operating a vehicle. However, motorists cannot legally refuse a blood test.

The issue came up after an officer took a man into custody in 2010. He refused a breath test but had his blood drawn without a warrant. The case went to the U.S Supreme Court, where eight of the nine justices ruled that the blood draw without a warrant violated the person's fourth amendment protection. Ultimately, police officers must seek a search warrant before drawing blood. The man was found not guilty of DWI.

Due to this decision, it was reported that city officials planned to seek a warrant for a blood test when someone refuses a breath test. This way, St. Louis becomes a 'No Refusal Zone."

Being charged with a DWI can have incredibly serious consequences. With officers potentially seeking warrants for every person who refuses a breath test, it may be more difficult to challenge DWI charges. However, an attorney may still be able to create a strong DWI defense even if their client refuses to take a breath test.

Depending upon the evidence that the prosecution has against their client, the attorney may be able to reduce any potential consequences. If the evidence against their client is not strong, they may be able to challenge the charge and attempt to have it dropped in court. If a conviction seems likely, the attorney may be able to have the punishments reduced by seeking alternative consequences, including probation, community service and even rehabilitation.

Source: KPLR, "St. Louis to become a DUI "No Refusal Zone"", Kim Hudson, December 30, 2013

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