The common police tactic of getting blood or urine samples from individuals suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) is currently in flux. Depending on what works its way through the New Jersey legislature, and how that holds up through court tests, such evidence gathering may not be permitted in the future.
Current procedures have not required law officers to seek a warrant or court order before taking blood samples from drivers suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. But the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled (Missouri v. McNeely) that even in circumstances where the suspect is under emergency medical care, or when a breathalyzer would fail to turn up evidence of drug use, that police may need to get a court order to collect a blood or urine sample. That, argue law enforcement officials, would allow too much time to elapse for some tests to be effective.
The Supreme Court disagreed, stating that the rate at which alcohol is metabolized in the body is slow enough that obtaining a warrant should not be a hindrance. The New Jersey legislature is mulling a law that would still allow a warrantless blood or urine sampling when drug use by the driver is suspected.
Current New Jersey law imposes penalties on the suspected DUI driver when he or she refuses to take a Breathalyzer test. This law is unaffected by the new ruling because the “implied consent” given by anyone holding a driver’s license effectively subjects every New Jersey motorist to this particular scrutiny.
The laws around any type of driving under the influence have been strengthened considerably in the past two decades, with significant penalties that include fines, confinement and the loss of driving privileges. Yet, there remain questions such as test accuracy and whether or not a driver’s behavior warranted any form of testing at all.
Posted in DUI
Tagged driving under the influence, dui blood sampling