Penalties in Some DUI Cases Could Be Reduced Under Supreme Court Ruling
A recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 23, 2016 could actually end up giving some people charged with driving under the influence (DUI) a break in terms of the potential penalties they face.
Three separate but related cases were consolidated in the matter of Birchfield v. North Dakota relating to the issue of whether the police must first obtain a search warrant before obtaining a breath or blood sample from a motorist who refuses to agree to a request for a blood or breath sample. A related question presented was whether a motorist’s consent to a blood or breath test was unconstitutionally coerced where a refusal to do so is criminally penalized.
The court ruled that when a motorist refuses a blood test, the police must obtain a search warrant before proceeding further. A search warrant is not required for a breath test, however, because breath testing is a less invasive procedure than a blood draw.
With regard to those motorists who consent to breath or blood testing, if they were advised that a refusal to consent will result in criminal penalties, then their consent was constitutionally invalid and must be suppressed. This means that their blood alcohol content cannot be used as evidence against them at trial, thereby reducing the possible penalties and weakening the case against them.
Finally, although motorists impliedly consent to blood and breath testing as a condition of being granted the privilege of driving, it is unconstitutional for motorists to be punished criminally for refusing to submit to blood or breath testing. It may be proper, however, for implied consent statutes to impose civil penalties such as loss of driving privileges on motorists who refuse to consent to blood or breath testing.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Berks County, work with knowledgeable Reading DUI defense lawyer David R. Eshelman.