Supreme Court’s Decision on Sobriety Tests

Supreme Court’s Decision on Sobriety Tests

It is a well-known fact that the Supreme Court makes the most impactful decisions in June, when they close down most of the cases and rulings from the previous season. This time it was no different as the Supreme Court ruled out yet another eventful decision that will have an impact on American lives.

This time, the Supreme Court ruled out a decision on a pretty important matter – just how far the law enforcement authorities will be able to go in order to establish if a person is driving the vehicle under the influence of alcohol. In a 5-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled out that refusing to submit yourself to a breathalyzer test should be considered as a crime and that the law enforcement authorities have no need for a warrant to administer such a test to begin with. One of the Court’s judges wrote that breath tests are significantly less intrusive than the blood tests and, therefore, there could be no reason why a person would refuse to submit to it, unless he or she has something to hide to begin with.

One the other hand, the Court ruled out that blood alcohol tests are significantly more intrusive and do require to pierce a person’s skin to obtain a physical sample that could eventually be used as evidence in court. Hence, the Supreme Court made a decision that the law enforcement authorities will need a warrant to administer the blood alcohol tests.

Even before the Supreme Court’s rulings, 11 states, including North Dakota and Minnesota, were already applying harsh legal penalties for the people who refused to submit themselves to the breathalyzer tests and they lost their driving privileges. Now that the Supreme Court made a definitive decision, it is quite apparent that more and more states will follow. We are bound to see more breathalyzer tests and fewer blood tests since it is inconvenient for the law enforcement authorities to begin with.

Now that the Court ruled out that the law enforcement authorities do not need a warrant to administer a breathalyzer test, it is quite apparent that the drivers will not be left any choice. After all, there is no need to choose the blood test if the police have the right to administer the breathalyzer right there and then.

There is also one very important issue that also needs resolution. Obviously, breathalyzers are useless in determining if a person was driving under the influence of drugs, so will the law enforcement authorities have the right to apply blood tests if they have suspicions? This problem needs to be resolved in the future. Seeing how more and more states are actively legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, it would only be natural for the court to revisit their decision quite soon and to figure out what is to be done with those driving under the influence or marijuana.

Two Supreme Court members had different opinions on the matter. One of them suggested that there is no need for the warrants for both the blood test and the breath test. Another member of the court suggested that there is a need for a warrant in both of the situations; otherwise, the need for a warrant will turn into nothing more than a mere suggestion.

Hence, it is obvious that refusing a breath test is no longer an option and will make things worse for the possible offenders. Furthermore, as a warrant is required to perform a blood test, it is only natural that the law enforcement authorities will choose the path of least resistance and will apply the breath tests all the time, whether you like it or not.

If you or your loved ones were charged with DUI and you do not know what to do next, it is extremely important not to lose any time and to get in touch with a professional skillful Seattle DUI attorney as soon as possible. That way, you will be able to avoid all the harshest legal consequences and get the most from your legal stance.

Pavel Kleyner, ESQ
Kleyner Law Offices

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