Friday, July 12, 2024

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US Supreme Court Requires Search Warrants for Blood Draws in Many DUI Cases

Steve ObermanNew Tennessee DUI Defense?

Many persons charged in Tennessee with the crime of Drunk Driving (DUI/DWI) may have a new defense in their arsenal.  On April 17, 2013 the United States Supreme Court ruled that the natural metabolization of alcohol in the bloodstream does not present a per se [automatic] exigency that justifies an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s search warrant requirement for nonconsensual blood testing in all drunk-driving cases.  Instead, the court determined that exigency in this context must be determined on a case-by-case basis dependent on the totality of the circumstances.  See Missouri v. McNeely (Docket No. 11-1425).

So what does this mean for Tennessee DUI defendants?

First, a ruling by the US Supreme Court establishes minimum privacy rights guaranteed by our federal Constitution.  Accordingly, Tennessee Courts are required to abide by this decision.

Second, if a person suspected of a DUI in Tennessee elects not to consent to the arresting officer’s request for a blood sample, it is likely that the officer will need to obtain a search warrant in order to proceed with a blood draw over the suspect’s objection.  If a blood sample is obtained without a search warrant in spite of the suspect’s objection, and without a justification of urgency based upon the facts of the case, the blood test results may be determined by the court to be inadmissible as evidence against the suspect.

The legal analysis to be applied in each case can be complicated.  It is therefore important for someone charged with the offense of DUI to hire a lawyer familiar with this issue.  I am proud to state that in the McNeely opinion, the concurring and dissenting opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts referred to the legal text, Drunk Driving Defense, in a footnote.  As regular readers of this blog know, this text is co-authored by Lawrence Taylor (California DUI attorney) and myself – both regular contributors to this blog.  Should you find yourself in need of a Tennessee attorney, the DUI defense lawyers at Oberman & Rice are ready to assist you.

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Steve Oberman

Steve Oberman

Since graduating from the University of Tennessee Law School in 1980, Mr. Oberman has become established as a national authority on the intricacies of DUI defense law. Steve is a former Dean of the National College for DUI Defense, co-author of a national treatise ("Drunk Driving Defense" published by Aspen/Wolters-Kluwer), and author of "DUI: The Crime and Consequences in Tennessee" (published by Thomson-Reuters/West). He has taught thousands of lawyers, judges, and members of the general public about the intricacies of this crime. Steve was selected as a Fulbright Scholar to teach American Criminal Law and American Trial Advocacy at the University of Latvia School of Law in 2019; in 2023 taught for a semester as a visiting professor at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) Faculty of Law in Budapest, Hungary; and as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Ljubljana Faculty of Law in 2024. Steve has also presented at a number of judicial conferences in the United States and Canada as well as for law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Czech Republic Police Academy. As a Tennessee DUI attorney, Mr. Oberman has successfully defended over two thousand clients charged with Driving Under the Influence of alcohol and/or drugs. In 2006, Mr. Oberman became the first DUI lawyer in Tennessee to be recognized by the National College for DUI Defense as a Board Certified Specialist in the area of DUI Defense law.

One Response

  1. Thanks to Steve for sharing these insightful posts about DUI. They must be building awareness among people to some extent. I appreciate your efforts of educating people about DUI defense.

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