Last month the issue of whether a nonconsensual blood draw requires a search warrant was addressed by the United State Supreme Court in Missouri v. McNeely, 569 U.S. __ (2013) (decided April 17, 2013). The following is the Court’s holding:
“The question presented here is whether the natural metabolization of alcohol in the bloodstream presents a per se exigency that justifies an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement for nonconsensual blood testing in all drunk-driving cases. We conclude that it does not, and we hold, consistent with general Fourth Amendment principles, that exigency in this context must be determined case by case based on the totality of the circumstances.” 569 U.S. __ 1 (2013).
This is a big news, nationally, for drunk driving enforcement, and Wisconsin OWI law in particular. Wisconsin courts have more or less treated warrantless blood draws in OWI cases as always appropriate, legal, and admissible in court. The McNeely case reiterates the need for actual, fact-specific exigency (special circumstances requiring a by-pass of the warrant requirement) before taking a warrantless blood draw from someone accused of drunk driving.
Challenging a prosecution in Wisconsin for OWI always requires a knowledgeable and diligent criminal defense attorney.