The Supreme Court of the United States recently issued an opinion in a OVI/DUI/Drunk Driving case that will affect drivers in Ohio. Birchfield v. North Dakota, 579 U.S. ____ (2016).
Opinion by: Mary Martin
In an analysis of three separate cases, the Supreme Court has ruled that breath tests in drunk driving cases are searches incident to arrest and thus no warrant is needed. However, a blood test to determine the concentration of alcohol and/or drugs in your body is not a search incident to arrest and thus a warrant must be obtained before compelling an individual to submit to a blood test. The analysis in the majority opinion focuses on the fact that a breath test does not implicate one’s privacy concerns and it is minimally intrusive. A blood test, however, is very intrusive and the State can get far more information than just one’s blood alcohol content from the sample the State obtains and then keeps.
The Court struck down North Dakota and Minnesota’s additional separate criminal offenses for refusing to take a test. The Court held that civil penalties (such as additional driver’s license suspension time) and evidentiary consequences (such as favorable jury instructions) are permissible for someone that refuses a test: “there must be a limit to the consequences to which motorists may be deemed to have consented by virtue of a decision to drive on public roads.”
Read more about what this means for future Supreme Court cases here.
All situations are unique. Persons with questions about OVI/DUI/Drunk Driving cases should read more here and consult an attorney. Mary Mart can be reached at 513-445-9600.