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U.S. Supreme Court to Rule on Whether a Blood Draw from an Unconscious Driver is Unconstitutional

A hotly contested issue in DUI cases throughout the nation is whether a blood draw taken from an unconscious DUI suspect is unconstitutional. While the Appellate Court of Illinois recently held that a warrantless blood draw from an unconscious suspect who is not under arrest violates the suspect’s Fourth Amendment Rights, approximately twenty-nine other states have laws permitting such blood draws.

It appears this controversial issue has come to a head, however, as the United States Supreme Court recently granted a petition to review in a Wisconsin case challenging an implied consent law permitting warrantless blood draws on unconscious defendants. Thus, it is anticipated that the country will soon have clear authority as to whether warrantless blood draws taken from unconscious defendants violate the right against unreasonable search and seizure afforded by the Fourth Amendment. If you are currently facing DUI charges, it is important to retain a knowledgeable Illinois DUI attorney who can advise you of how changes in the law affect your case.

The Wisconsin Case

Reportedly, the defendant in the Wisconsin case was stopped after the police received reports that he was driving while intoxicated. He submitted to a breath test, which revealed his blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit of .08. The defendant was arrested and transported to a hospital for a blood draw. While at the hospital, the defendant was allegedly read an Informing the Accused form and given the opportunity to withdraw his consent to the blood test. At that time, however, the defendant was unconscious and not able to respond. The police directed the hospital staff to draw the defendant’s blood, which they did. The blood draw revealed a blood alcohol level of .22. The defendant was subsequently convicted of a DUI, after which he appealed, arguing the blood draw was an unreasonable search that violated his constitutional rights. The State argued that the blood draw was valid under the Wisconsin Implied Consent Law. Ultimately, the Wisconsin Supreme Court found in favor of the State, holding that the officer did not need a warrant to obtain a blood sample from the defendant, pursuant to the Implied Consent Law.

Following the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling, the defendant petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review, arguing that the police should have been required to obtain a warrant prior to drawing his blood. The Court granted the petition but did not comment on the decision to hear the case. The precise issue before the Court is whether state legislatures can remove the requirement for a warrant for obtaining a blood draw by deeming the state’s citizens to have consented to Fourth Amendment searches.

Current Law Regarding Warrantless Blood Draws in Illinois

Recently, an Appellate Court of Illinois ruled that a warrantless blood search of an unconscious suspect violated the suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights. In that case, however, the court found that the Illinois Implied Consent Law did not apply because the suspect was not under arrest at the time of the blood draw. The court did not rule on the constitutionality of a warrantless blood search of a defendant who had already been arrested.

Meet with an Experienced Illinois DUI Attorney to Discuss Your Case

The laws regarding what evidence can be admitted in a DUI case frequently change. If you face DUI charges following a blood draw taken without your consent, you should retain a seasoned DUI attorney to fight on your behalf. Attorney Theodore J. Harvatin, of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC, will work diligently to help you seek a successful outcome under the circumstances. Contact Mr. Harvatin at 217.525.0520 to set up a free and confidential meeting.

More Blog Posts:

State Supreme Court Holds Police Cannot Take Warrantless Blood Draws From Unconscious DUI Suspects, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, October 2, 2017.