Missouri Supreme Court Rejects Warrantless Blood Testing During DWI Arrests

Earlier this week, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled on a monumental DWI case that had the potential to drastically change the approach police officers could take during DWI arrests.  After the decision, law enforcement officers must get a warrant before ordering a blood test on an unwilling drunken-driving suspect except during special circumstances when the delay could threaten a life or destroy potential evidence.

The simple fact that alcohol in the blood begins dissipating when a person stops drinking does not qualify as such a circumstance.  The Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the defendant was subjected to an unconstitutional search when a hospital employee drew his blood on orders from a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper. The Trooper did not get a warrant once the defendant refused a road-side breath test.

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled that there must be “exigent circumstances under which the time needed to obtain a warrant would endanger life, allow a suspect to escape or risk the destruction of evidence.”  In upholding the trial judge’s suppression of the blood-sample, the court stated that “Defendant’s case is unquestionably a routine DWI case.”

The Cape Girardeau prosecuting attorney’s office stated that they plan to appeal the case to the United States Supreme Court.