Court rejects routine no-warrant DUI blood tests

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court has ruled that police must usually try to obtain a search warrant from a judge before ordering blood tests for drunken-driving suspects.

The justices on Wednesday sided with a Missouri man who was subjected to a blood test without a warrant and found to have nearly twice the legal limit of alcohol in his blood.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said for the court that the natural dissipation of alcohol in the blood is generally not sufficient reason to jettison the requirement that police get a judge's approval before drawing a blood sample.

Missouri and the Obama administration were asking the court to endorse a blanket rule that would have allowed the tests without a warrant.

Eric Zahnd, President of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys released this statement on Wednesday:

"The United States Supreme Court ruled today on the Missouri case regarding whether police can obtain a blood draw from someone suspected of drunk driving without first obtaining a search warrant. While the Court stopped short of adopting a bright line rule that would allow police to obtain warrantless blood draws in every case, it held that the natural dissipation of alcohol in blood may support that practice. Missouri's prosecutors will continue to work vigorously with our law enforcement partners to maximize public safety by ensuring that DWI cases are investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent possible."

"Although the question of whether a warrantless blood test of a drunk-driving suspect is permissible will continue to be determined case-by-case, such tests will remain an arrow in the quiver of law enforcement in appropriate circumstances. Drunk driving suspects who refuse to provide a breath or blood sample are tampering with evidence of their crime, and MAPA supports Rep. Don Phillips' HB461, which makes it clear that such actions are against the law. In the end, aggressive investigation and prosecution of DWI cases is one of the best homicide prevention strategies we can implement."

View the full court opinion.

Copyright 2013 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.