Mandatory DUI Blood Tests Unconstitutional
Many states, including Ohio, criminalize the refusal to submit to alcohol testing after being arrested for DUI. The United States Supreme Court, in ruling mandatory DUI blood tests unconstitutional, imposed severe limits on such state laws.
Individual Rights And Liberties Are More Important Than Getting Tough On Crime
This case sends a message to get tough on crime advocates: citizens’ personal liberty cannot be infringed in the name of enforcing criminal laws. The United States was formed on the notion of individual rights and freedoms. The U.S. Supreme Court reminded us of this fact in its decision.
Mandatory DUI Blood Tests Unconstitutional Decision
In its 2016 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld warrantless breathalyzer tests but struck down warrantless blood tests for DUI investigations. The Supreme Court concluded that breath tests are not very intrusive and that state have a compelling interest in preventing drunk driving. Obtaining blood draws are more intrusive, as they involve piercing the skin and extracting a part of the subject’s body.
DUI Blood Alcohol Tests Background
States used to just impose license suspensions for refusing tests for measuring blood alcohol levels. States began passing tougher DUI laws by increasing penalties for higher blood alcohol levels. Faced with greater criminal penalties, suspects had a lot of motivation to refuse a test measuring blood alcohol if they felt it would result in high enough levels to require such increased penalties. The states responded by making refusal of alcohol tests a crime.
U.S. Supreme Court Decision’s Impact on Ohio DUI law
Ohio DUI laws make it a crime to refuse any testing for alcohol or drugs if one is also guilty of DUI. In other words, refusal of alcohol testing is not a crime in Ohio if one is not operating a motor vehicle while impaired.
Due to the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Ohio’s law criminalizing refusal to take blood tests is unconstitutional. If law enforcement wants a blood tests, they will have to get a warrant. However, I believe it is no longer a crime to refuse a blood test after being arrested for OVI in Ohio. This does not mean that some police officer, prosecutor and court will not try to enforce this invalid law. It simply means that I believe, in the end, one would prevail on this issue.
Additional Material By Attorney Daniel Gigiano
If you would like to read more about Ohio OVI laws, take a look at my white paper on Ohio OVI law. If you need the services of an experienced DUI attorney, contact Attorney Daniel Gigiano at 330-336-3330.