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Kentucky Court Rules Refusal to Submit to a Warrantless Blood Test Cannot be Used as Evidence of Guilt in DUI Cases

Relatively recently, the United States Supreme Court ruled that warrantless blood tests violate the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. The landscape of DUI law across the country changed in response to the Court’s ruling and continues to evolve, as demonstrated in a recent ruling issued by the Kentucky Supreme Court, in which it held that the refusal to submit to a warrantless blood test could not be used against a DUI defendant. While the ruling does not impact the law in Illinois, it provides insight into how DUI laws throughout the country may progress in the future. If you are charged with a DUI crime, it is smart to meet with a trusted Illinois DUI defense lawyer to assess your options for seeking a just outcome.

The Kentucky Ruling

Reportedly, the Kentucky Supreme Court recently issued a ruling clarifying the status of DUI law throughout the state. Specifically, it upheld a state appellate court decision vacating a man’s DUI conviction, where the state relied on his refusal to submit to a warrantless blood test as evidence of his guilt. The Kentucky Supreme Court noted that courts throughout the state rejected the United States Supreme Court ruling dictating that the police must obtain warrants for blood tests, stating that the ruling did not apply in their courts.

The Kentucky Supreme Court made it abundantly clear, however, that the state courts must abide by the Supreme Court ruling and could not use a DUI defendant’s refusal to submit to a blood test as evidence of guilt. The court pointed out that currently, the law in Kentucky requires proof of injury or death to obtain a warrant for suspected DUI. Thus, it is anticipated that law enforcement agencies will pressure the legislature to modify the laws in the near future.

Illinois Law Regarding Warrants in DUI Cases

Similar to Kentucky, warrantless blood searches are improper under Illinois law, and evidence obtained via such searches will likely be precluded from evidence at trial. Many counties in Illinois allow the police to obtain expedited warrants in certain circumstances that would effectively allow them to force DUI suspects to provide blood samples. A party that refuses to comply with a warrant may be charged with obstruction of justice, be held in contempt of court, and may face civil penalties as well.

Presently, however, the Illinois law pertaining to chemical testing in DUI cases, 625 ILCS 5/11–501.2 allows the state to introduce evidence that a DUI suspect refused to submit to chemical testing at trial.  Thus, under the current law, it likely could be introduced as evidence of a DUI defendant’s guilt.

Meet with an Experienced Illinois DUI Attorney

DUI suspects have rights, including the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, and if the police violate their rights, DUI suspects may be able to convince the court to discard evidence against them. If you are accused of a DUI offense, it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney about your potential defenses. Theodore J. Harvatin, of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC, is an experienced Illinois DUI defense lawyer with the skills and experience needed to help you seek a favorable outcome and if you hire him, he will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach Mr. Harvatin by calling 217.525.0520 or via the form online to set up a conference.

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