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Police Need Search Warrants in DUI Arrests

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that police need a search warrant to test a driver’s blood alcohol content following a DUI arrest. Missouri v. McNeely refuted the state’s argument that the body’s natural elimination of alcohol creates an automatic exception to the warrant requirement.  

Before this decision, police officers got around the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement by arguing that the body’s natural elimination of alcohol creates an emergency because evidence of a crime was being destroyed. Thus, the argument went, law enforcement was not required to get a search warrant to test a suspected drunk driver’s blood alcohol content because doing so would delay the ability to collect evidence of a crime.  

However, the McNeely opinion finally recognized that a bright-line rule ignoring the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement is no longer applicable in today’s modern world. Getting a search warrant today is quicker than it has ever been.

Modern technology allows law enforcement to secure a search warrant over the phone or via email in a matter of minutes. This minor delay, the Court held, will not result in the elimination of evidence against a suspected drunk driver.

Whether a search warrant is required before testing in every Minnesota DUI case will turn on the facts of each individual case. However, this decision shifts the burden to the states and law enforcement, in particular, to demonstrate to a court why they could not reasonably secure a search warrant before testing a suspected drunk driver’s blood alcohol content.  

The new standard announced in McNeely presumes that a search warrant should be required, rather than the former rule which required the arrested drunk driver to prove why the police should have been required to secure a warrant. When the police can reasonably secure a search warrant without unnecessary delay, they must do so.

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If you or someone you know is facing a Minnesota DUI, contact the Minnesota DUI lawyers at Arechigo & Stokka immediately.  Our Minnesota DWI lawyers will review your case and prepare an aggressive defense.

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John T. Arechigo, Esq.

Attorney John Arechigo has a passion for criminal defense.  He devotes nearly 100% of his practice to defending individuals charged with a crime. John offers what very few other Twin Cities criminal defense lawyers can offer. His combination of experience, success, connections, resources, accessibility, and complete handling of a client’s file sets him apart from his colleagues.

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