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U.S. Supreme Court Changes Law on Blood Draw

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The Fourth Amendment does not permit a warrantless blood draw incident to a drunk driving offense

By Attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, Drunk Driving Lawyer, Harrisburg, PA

Generally, prior to Birchfield v. North Dakota, 136 S.Ct. 2160, (U.S. Supreme Ct. June 23, 2016), if you were pulled over for a driving under the influence (DUI) and the police desired a legal blood draw and you refused, you were made subject to higher criminal penalties under Pennsylvania's DUI statute.  In Birchfield, the High Court determined that subjecting one to a higher penalty for asserting their 4th Amendment Right was unconstitutional.  Rather, the police must now get a warrant based upon probable cause in order to get a blood draw and cannot utilize your refusal as a method to increase your penalty.

Some points about the new decision:

  • It doesn't effect PADOT's right to suspend your license for a refusal to take a legal blood draw;
  • If you're in an accident, the police can get the medical blood draw through the execution of a search warrant and you will still have your license suspended if you refuse the legal blood draw;
  • The police will now be required to get warrants every time a motorists refuses, which will likely take less than 2 hours, and you will get a one year license suspension;
  • The new rule helps those that are currently facing a heightened DUI penalty that refused their blood test.

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