On June 27, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that a suspected drunken driver's blood may be drawn without a police warrant if that driver is unconscious. This ruling is completely opposite of previous Supreme Court rulings on other DUI cases when the justices said that a blood draw was a significant bodily intrusion into a person's privacy and therefore unconstitutional. This most recent case, Mitchell vs. Wisconsin, all began with an incident that occurred a little over six years ago.
In May 2013, a neighbor of George Mitchell called the Sheboygan Police Department to report that Mitchell had been drinking and was suicidal, and she had just watched him drive away in his car. An officer later spotted Mitchell walking along a beach after he'd parked his car because, as he told the officer, he was “too drunk to drive.” The officer administered a breath test, which showed that Mitchell's blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.24, which is three times over the legal limit in Wisconsin. Mitchell was arrested and driven to a hospital for a blood draw, but he passed out on the way and was unresponsive upon reaching the hospital. The officer ordered the blood draw anyway, and it showed that his BAC was 0.22.
Mitchell was eventually convicted of his seventh DUI, but his lawyers argued the blood draw completely violated Mitchell's Fourth Amendment rights as he was not able to withdraw his consent to the blood draw. Every state has some sort of “implied consent” law on the books, which basically means that when a driver gets behind the wheel, he or she consents to be tested if pulled over and suspected of driving impaired. Wisconsin and 28 other states go a bit further, though, and say warrantless or forcible blood draws are legal.
As part of the opposing view, Justice Sotomayor wrote:
“The plurality may believe it is helping to ameliorate the scourge of drunk driving, but what it really does is to strike another needless blow at the protections guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment.”
Nevada's View on Warrantless Blood Draws
In 2014, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that the state's implied consent law, which allowed for warrantless blood draws of a person suspected of DUI, was unconstitutional. Before then, a person who refused to have his or her blood drawn could have been charged with additional offenses alongside a DUI. But after the Nevada Supreme Court ruling in 2014, drivers can refuse to submit to a test, but they will lose their license or permit to drive for a period of time, and the requesting officer may still seek a warrant to get a blood sample.
Experienced DUI Defense
How the latest U.S. Supreme Court ruling will affect Nevada's law is yet to be seen. If you have been arrested and charged with a Nevada DUI, you need experienced legal help. The Law Office of Travis Akin is the help you need. Call or contact Travis Akin today at (702) 510-8567 for a free consultation about your DUI charge.