U.S. Supreme Court Hears Missouri DWI Case Today

Missouri DWI Laws will be in the national spotlight today as the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding a DWI case that occurred in Cape Girardeau in 2010. The ultimate ruling by the Court could affect how evidence, specifically the withdrawal of blood without consent or a valid warrant, can be gathered in DUI and DWI cases nationwide.

Tyler G. McNeely was stopped by Missouri Highway Patrol for traffic violations; the Trooper reported that he had red or bloodshot eyes and had the odor of alcohol about his person. The Trooper also alleged that Mr. McNeely failed Field Sobriety Tests. When he subsequently refused to take a Breathalyzer test, McNeely was placed under arrest, transported to a hospital where he then refused to take a blood test. The Trooper had a medical technician take a sample of Mr. McNeely's blood both without his consent and without a warrant; the resultant blood alcohol content was 0.15, almost double the legal limit.

Mr. McNeely's lawyer filed a Motion to Suppress the results of the blood test, contending that they had been collected in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable search or seizure. The Trial Court granted the Motion suppressing the evidence, The case then went to the Court of Appeals, who sided with the Trooper, The Missouri Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed the Trial Court's initial ruling that the BAC evidence was obtained in violation of Mr. McNeely's Fourth Amendment rights.

The ACLU has thrown its support behind Mr. McNeely and the Federal Government is backing Missouri. Can the State restrain you, puncture your skin with a needle and take your blood against your will or without the issuance of a valid warrant by a Judge or Magistrate? Is this taking police power too far? Expect a decision later this year.

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