In a recent case, our Supreme Court held that police do not need a warrant to compel a driver to submit to a breathalyzer test, however police do need a warrant to compel a driver to submit to blood draw. The court reasoned that the breath test does no impinge on privacy rights in a manner analogous to a blood test. In particular, blood testing will result in an extraction of blood from a person’s body. It is more intrusive than a breath of air. Additionally, the blood testing results enable the police to acquire information beyond a BAC reading.
State’s may impose civil penalties as a result of driver refusing to submit to testing, however state’s may not impose criminal penalties upon a driver who refuses to provide a blood sample. The court’s decision strikes down the laws in Minnesota and North Dakota that made it illegal for driver’s to refuse warrant less blood alcohol tests if they had been arrested for driving under influence.
Justice Thomas wrote a dissenting opinion in which he stated that both tests should be allowed under the exigency exception to the warrant requirement. Justice Sotomayor also wrote a dissenting opinion in which she stated that both tests require a warrant. The Justice stated that the police have ample time to secure a warrant because the driver will be taken to the police station.
A full copy of the court’s decision can be found by clicking here.