Supreme Court agrees to hear Fourth Amendment cases on drunk driving tests and arrests


Over at SCOTUSblog, Lyle Denniston reports:

In a move that could have a nationwide effect on the roadside actions of police officers, the Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether a blood or breath test for drunk driving can be made without a search warrant and whether, if there is no warrant, an individual can be charged with a crime for refusing to take such a test. The Justices took on three cases raising the issue: two from North Dakota and one from Minnesota.

Lyle continues:

The drunk-driving cases provide the Court with something of a sequel to its ruling in 2013 in Missouri v. McNeely, which left the clear impression that, if police have enough time, they should get a warrant before taking a test of a suspected drunk driver. The Court ruled that the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream does not always amount to an emergency situation that permits a DUI test without a warrant.

In North Dakota, state laws bars a person from driving in the state if he or she refuses to submit to a chemical test, of blood, breath or urine, to determine alcohol concentration. It makes refusal to take such a test open to prosecution for a crime that carries the same punishment as a conviction for drunk-driving. In Minnesota, state law makes it a crime to refuse an officer's request to take a chemical test for alcohol in the blood, if the individual has been validly arrested for drunk driving. The two cases involve either a blood or breath test.

In May 2014, I participated in a Federalist Society podcast on the subject of these cert grants together with Rory Little of UC Hastings. Justice David Stras of the Minnesota Supreme Court moderated. You can listen to the podcast here.