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U.S. Supreme Court Changes Law on Blood Draw

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

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 motorist 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.