Most people know about the basic principles of the Fourth Amendment: you
are protected from search and seizure by authorities unless they get a
search warrant. However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as when
law enforcement believe waiting for a warrant would lead to the destruction
of evidence. This exception makes things particularly cloudy when it comes
to DUI offenses. A recent Arizona Supreme Court ruling has clarified some
of the confusion on this subject, and many believe taken a huge step towards
preserving Constitutional rights.
The Ruling Summarized
This ruling, given back in March, follows up on a 2013 decision from the
U.S. Supreme Court that. Essentially, the ruling says that police and
law enforcement may not take blood samples from an unconscious, deceased,
or otherwise incapacitated suspect who cannot refuse consent. Drawing
blood for purposes of determining intoxication level is considered a “search,”
and this decision reinforces that law enforcement must either obtain permission
to perform a search from individuals, or obtain a warrant.
The case presented before the Supreme Court was based on a Mohave County
judge’s decision refusal to bar a blood sample taken from an unconscious
suspect. The defense argued that the sample was taken without a warrant,
even though officers could have obtained one within a reasonable amount
of time that have allowed them to prevent a loss of evidence. In the past,
officers would need to go to the courts, present their case before a judge,
and then wait for the judge to sign off on the warrant, a process that
could take hours or even days. Today, warrants can be obtained in as little
as a few minutes by phone or other electronic means.
It’s important not to confuse this decision with Arizona’s
“implied consent” law, which states that anyone who is lawfully
arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence must submit to a
chemical blood alcohol test. Refusing to submit to this test will result
in a license suspension for at least a year, and likewise won’t
necessarily prevent you from being convicted of your DUI charge. This
Supreme Court decision simply states that everyone must still be given
the opportunity to refuse this test, and if they don’t have the
mental capacity to refuse, officers must get a warrant.
If you have been arrested and charged with DUI, Contact a Mesa DUI attorney
from Naegle & Crider Criminal Defense Attorneys! Dial (480) 418-0776 to
schedule a case evaluation today.