A Missouri drunk driving case has influenced drunk driving laws throughout the country. Stearns County in Minnesota has changed its laws to require a search warrant before police can take a blood sample from a drunk driving suspect. Under current law, police could take an individual back to the police station for a blood test after performing field sobriety tests and a Breathalyzer. The blood test is administered under implied consent. If the suspected drunk driver refuses the test, they will be charged with refusing to take the test in addition to DWI.
Some drivers say the new law is a welcome change. One driver said that a blood sample is more personal than field sobriety tests or a Breathalyzer test and should require warrant. The driver wondered whether other evidence, like DNA, could also be taken via implied consent. He said that a line had to be drawn somewhere and blood samples seemed like an appropriate boundary.
Local law enforcement officials disagree. A spokesman for the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Department said there is a sense of urgency with drunk driving tests because the primary evidence erodes in the accused person’s body over time. He said that a police officer may lose crucial evidence if the officer has to get a warrant from a judge before administering the test. He added that police officers sometimes arrest three DUI suspects in one night and that it would be impossible to obtain three warrants in a short amount of time.
While drunk driving is a serious crime, it’s also important to maintain a defendant’s rights during the arrest process. An attorney with experience defending against drunk driving charges could help an accused individual present their case. If the accused’s rights were violated during the process of gathering evidence, the attorney may be able to have that evidence excluded from a trial.
Source: KAAL, “DWI Blood Test Search Warrant Gets Mixed Reaction“, Steph Crock, August 15, 2013