Thursday, April 25, 2013

Supreme Court Makes It Harder to Get Drunk Drivers Convicted

Preserving the Right to Get Liquored Up and Kill Some People

If a person is driving with an excessive amount of alcohol in their body they pose a terrible risk to the public in general.  And getting evidence of too much alcohol can be difficult, as drivers can fight any testing to determine how drunk they were. And if they can delay a couple of hours, the alcohol may dissipate and the evidence of their crime is lost.

So when police in Missouri thought a driver was highly intoxicated, they forced a blood test on the driver, who did not consent to the test.

The outcome of the test is largely irrelevant (yes he had twice the legal limit of blood alcohol).  The issue is whether or not one has a Constitutional right to refuse a blood test.  The Supreme Court said yes, you do.

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR delivered the opinion of the Court with respect
to Parts I, II–A, II–B, and IV, concluding that in drunk-driving investigations, the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream does not constitute an exigency in every case sufficient to justify conducting a blood test without a warrant. Pp. 4–13, 20–23

The Court’s position is that if a warrant can be obtained, it should be obtained.  Unfortunately this leaves police with a judgment call they cannot make.  While waiting for the warrant, if they can get one at all, the blood alcohol can go below the legal limit.  The fact that the evidence destroys itself is the reason why this decision is wrong. 

Supreme Court Justices will probably never face the horror of drunk driving.  But if they do they will hopefully know that their wrong decision helped bring about tragedies.

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