Supreme Danger

The Supreme Court of the United States has recently taken up a case from Missouri which has the possibility to significantly reduce privacy rights of motorists in the United States. The case involves a man from Missouri who was stopped by a police officer late one night on suspicion of driving drunk. While he was placed under arrest, he refused to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test, citing his constitutional right to refuse a search without a warrant. The officer nevertheless pressed onward with a blood test, forced on the individual without his consent or the legal authority to do so, because, according to the officer, it would have been to difficult to obtain a warrant at that time.

The issue which the Supreme Court must now decide is whether or not such an action on the part of the officer is allowable under the protections afforded by the Bill of Rights. There is precedent for officers in such situations being given permission to proceed with blood tests without a warrant, but to this point, that has been limited to very particular circumstances, whereas this case leaves open the possibility that any police officer who has probable cause to assume an individual is driving while drunk and does not believe that they can get the necessary warrant in time may force the individual to submit to a test without their consent. Such an expansion of police powers would be a considerable blow to individual liberties, considering the broad latitude which the standard of “probable cause” provides to law enforcement officials. Those who have been subject to chemical testing in these types of conditions should pursue the assistance of a DUI attorney to receive appropriate representation against overzealous law enforcement.

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