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Warrantless Blood Tests on Drunk Drivers Now Illegal in Pennsylvania

It is now against the law for police officers to conduct a warrantless blood test on drunk driving suspects, unless law enforcement are able to prove an emergency situation exists.

The United States Supreme Court recently handed down this ruling after a Missouri case questioned the constitutionality of warrantless blood tests on DUI suspects.

In the Missouri case, Missouri v. McNeely, a man was pulled over for drunk driving and refused to participate in both breathalyzer and blood tests. When he was taken to the hospital, he was forced to provide a blood sample against his will. The police officer at the time did not attempt to obtain a warrant, as he believed the Missouri law did not require it. The case was initially heard in the Missouri Supreme Court, where it was unanimously ruled that blood tests without a warrant could not be used in drunk driving cases. The controversial case moved on to the United States Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream does not constitute a “destruction of evidence,” which would justify law enforcement conducting a warrantless search. Justice Sotomayor specifically wrote in the ruling that the Fourth Amendment mandates that law enforcement obtain a warrant before drawing blood, particularly in situations where a warrant can reasonably be acquired.

While this recent Supreme Court ruling might mean drastic changes in other states’ criminal procedures, Pennsylvania’s strict search and seizure laws will remain relatively unchanged. Pennsylvania law actually affords state residents more protection against warrantless searches.

As someone with years of experience litigating, I always include references to the Constitution of the United States, but enjoy the increased protections under the Pennsylvania Constitution and case law.

If you are facing DUI charges in Pennsylvania, it’s important to be aware of your legal rights and options. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, there are several types of DUI defenses that might be viable for your situation. Perhaps you were improperly searched or the police officer didn’t have probable cause to pull you over for the DUI stop. Regardless of what happened in your case, it is always helpful and reassuring to consult with an experienced DUI attorney. Rest assured your legal rights will be fought for and protected by calling today.

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