In 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the police must obtain a warrant before subjecting a drunk driving suspect to a blood test. The ruling stems from a case that involved a man charged with drunk driving in which a blood sample was taken from him without his consent or a valid warrant.
Tyler McNeely was pulled over late at night after a state trooper observed him driving erratically. When McNeely refused to take a Breathalyzer test, the officer drove him to a local hospital and ordered blood drawn for an alcohol test. The officer did not seek a warrant, even though he had done so in previous cases. The state of Missouri contended that because alcohol naturally dissipates in the bloodstream, each passing moment means valuable evidence is being lost, and so a warrant is never required for a blood draw.
Similar to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, most counties throughout the State of Michigan have used warrants to obtain blood samples for quite some time.
As of 2006, most county prosecutors have policies that require law enforcement officers to obtain warrants for all OWI refusals, including first offenders. Some cities also use warrants for all OWI refusals. In a very few rural counties and some cities, judges will not support warrants for first-offense OWIs.
Chemical tests consist of urine, breath, or a blood sample with breath and blood being the most commonly used in Michigan. If you refuse to consent to taking any of the tests, the police can request a warrant to take a blood sample in order to determine your blood alcohol content.
Michigan uses warrants extensively throughout the State. Most counties obtain a warrant and a blood sample for almost every driver arrested for OWI (Operating While Intoxicated, Michigan’s basic impaired driving offense) who refuses a breath test or blood test to determine BAC (blood alcohol concentration).
There is an exception to the used of a search warrant for blood tests in Michigan. If you have been in a car accident, and are being investigated for possibly operating under the influence, then under Michigan State law the police can obtain a blood sample without obtaining a warrant so long as the sample is drawn by the hospital and used for “medical purposes.” The results can be used to formally charge you with drunk driving, and/or against you at trial.
If your blood test was improperly administered, you can protest the procedure during your trial, or in the course of any plea deal bargaining that may occur.
If you have been arrested for drunk driving in Washtenaw County, contact me for a case consultation. I defend Ann Arbor area residents charged with drunk driving. Call 734-274-6567 or email me to schedule an appointment.