Fourth Amendment

Police Should Need a Warrant to Pull Evidence From Your Body

Three DUI cases give SCOTUS a chance to clarify the constitutional requirements for drug and alcohol testing.

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Flickr / Scott L

Last Friday the Supreme Court agreed to consider whether criminal penalties for drivers who balk at warrantless blood or breath tests violate the Fourth Amendment. In my latest Forbes column, I argue that such tests are unreasonable searches:

Danny Birchfield drove his car into a ditch. Steve Beylund "nearly hit a stop sign while making a right hand turn into a driveway." William Bernard got his truck stuck in the river while trying to extract his boat. In his underwear.

These embarrassing incidents—the first two of which happened in North Dakota, the third in Minnesota—may not sound like the stuff of an inspiring legal battle. But all three cases, which the U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to hear together, pose an important question about the balance between public safety and the Fourth Amendment's ban on "unreasonable searches and seizures": Under what circumstances may the state delve into a person's body, looking for evidence to use against him?

Read the whole thing.

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  1. Even with a warrant, I don’t see how this type of evidence wouldn’t be a violation of the Fifth Amendment. You cannot be compelled to testify against yourself, but parts of you can be compelled to testify against the whole? Just not the part called your brain?

    1. Why do you want drunks to run over children? Why? You monster! Why!?!?

      1. I also want rapists and murderers to roam free.

        1. You’re the worst.

    2. Exactly. Texas now routinely runs “no refusal” weekends where a judge is sitting by a phone waiting to administer warrants. You think that judge declines to issue any warrant requested?

      1. Ya, by advertising the fact before hand they are demonstrating that the judge has already made up his mind before hand to rubber stamp all the warrants. I.e. not do his job at all.

  2. The point of these forced searches is to allow prosecutors to force plea bargains.

    They don’t want warrants, and they don’t want trials.

    They want guilty until proven innocent.

  3. This is a bit off topic, but I’d like to ask The Reasonoids a Q: Is there a known, spelled-out, argument for giving citizens the same violence/self-defense rights as cops? I know there’s the 2A, but I’m talking more along the lines of Equal Protection. They have the Use of Force Continuum allowing them to use more force than their opponent, but we civilians are expected/allowed only to match our opponent’s force.

    I look at it this way, cops shouldn’t be some special strong arm of da gubmint; they’re just doing a job that citizens would rather not do, but should be permitted to do.

    1. Citizens are not permitted to forcefully kidnap people, while for the police it’s their job description.

    2. Is there a known, spelled-out, argument for giving citizens the same violence/self-defense rights as cops?

      Libertarians would most likely say that everyone has the same (natural) rights, and that police are given powers as agents of the state, so the framing of this is a bit off.

      I look at it this way, cops shouldn’t be some special strong arm of da gubmint; they’re just doing a job that citizens would rather not do, but should be permitted to do.

      Ah, but that’s what the state is all about: a monopoly on legal force.

      1. Ah, but that’s what the state is all about: a monopoly on legal force.

        Not quite. The state has the monopoly on the initiation of force. It is legal to use force in response to force, but not to initiate it. Unless you’re an agent of the state that is.

        1. Thanks JSN and Sarc. Cops have the power to initiate force, and that power is not a right. That clears it up for me 🙂

  4. you first Officer Roidman. you don’t have something to hide do you?

  5. As I understand the story from a few days ago, it’s okay to shoot drunk drivers. Sure, you may get scolded for “mistakenly” shooting the guy and there may be some bad press from how bad the video looks when the guy’s trying to get out of his car and you just immediately pop him and the fact that you didn’t tell anybody you shot the guy until after they find the bullet wound in his neck, but it’s all good because the guy was drunk after all so he just got what was coming to him.

  6. Police Should Need a Warrant to Pull Evidence From Your Body

    And once police are required to get a warrant, the BAC level will be dropped to .002 to accommodate them.

  7. If you refuse an alcohol test after a DUI arrest in New York, the DMV automatically suspends your license for a year. You have to go to a DMV court for a hearing, where the police’s word is all the judge needs to hear to uphold the yearlong suspension.

  8. I don’t think these warrantless tests are unreasonable. You agree to them when you get your license. I’ve lived in 6 states and it’s always been refuse a test loose your license. You CAN refuse after all.

    1. Inalienable Rights.

      You are thinking of the Alienable ones.

    2. WRONG! in my state and others, if you REFUSE instead of just loosing your license they arrest you and tie you to a table and FORCEFULLY take blood from you! No where on my license or my paperwork to get a license does it state i agree to this!

      Once you give up your rights it is not used just in the context of this conversation or this topic, because the police will bend it’s intentions to find other ways to get a arrest even if it’s not how to interpret a law or “policy”.

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