drunk driving

Missouri v. McNeely


Tyler G. McNeely was arrested for drunk driving on October 3, 2010. After McNeely refused a breathalyzer and blood tests, Officer Mark Winder, acting without a warrant, directed hospital personnel to remove blood from McNeely. McNeely asserts that this action violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The State of Missouri responds that Winder’s action was constitutional because it fell into the “exigent circumstances” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement because the blood evidence was likely to be destroyed during the time it would take to obtain a warrant. McNeely also argues that bodily integrity is the core of the Fourth Amendment, that warrantless blood draws are unnecessary because other states have required warrants for blood draws and have not encountered difficulties enforcing DUI laws, and that judges and prosecutors overwhelmingly support warrants for blood draws. Missouri responds that blood testing is the best method of obtaining probative, relevant evidence of drunk driving, that blood draws typically involve little risk and pain, and that because blood naturally dissipates in a person’s bloodstream, evidence of drunk driving is continually destroyed.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 

Whether a law enforcement officer may obtain a nonconsensual and warrantless blood sample from a drunk driver under the exigent circumstances exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement based upon the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream.

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