In June, the United States Supreme Court ruled that under certain circumstances, police will be required to obtain a warrant to test the blood alcohol content of motorists suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. This ruling was passed down as a result of the Court combining three cases involving state laws which made the refusal of blood and breath BAC tests a criminal offense.

Basis for the Ruling

The Supreme Court decision is largely based on the rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. The Court came to the conclusion that warrantless blood testing was an intrusion of the privacy of the individual being tested, and a violation of the individual’s right to protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the Court, stating “There must be a limit to the consequences to which motorists may be deemed to have consented by virtue of a decision to drive on public roads.”

Conversely, the Court decision upheld law enforcement’s capacity to administer breathalyzer tests for blood alcohol levels without a warrant. In doing so, the Court maintained that these “tests are significantly less intrusive than blood tests and in most cases amply serve law enforcement interests,” and concluded that warrantless breathalyzer tests may be administered and serve as validation of a lawful arrest for drunk driving.

The ENLawyers Bottom Line

This ruling may have implications on how police officers in Maryland conduct DUI and DWI related traffic stops. It is important that drivers know their rights during such stops, and understand that while a police officer must obtain a warrant for a blood test to determine BAC, they are not required to do so to administer a breathalyzer test. As such, refusing a breathalyzer when pulled over under the suspicion of being intoxicated can still result in an arrest.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Eldridge and Nachtman have extensive experience representing clients facing DUI and DWI charges, and have published various legal resources regarding Marylanders’ rights when pulled over under the suspicion of being intoxicated. For additional information about Maryland DUI laws, or to speak with an attorney regarding your specific DUI/DWI case, contact the ENLawyers.

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