In proving a charge for DUI, the prosecution must be able to establish that the accused had a blood alcohol content exceeding allowed limits at the time of the arrest.

As a rule, a police officer must first obtain a warrant authorizing the blood draw for testing alcohol content if the accused refuses to submit to a blood test. Without such warrant, any blood sample obtained from the accused may not be used in evidence, providing a strong DUI defense for the accused.

McNeely Rule

The prevailing rule on warrantless blood draw can be found in the case of Missouri v. McNeely where the Supreme Court emphasized the importance of a warrant to conduct a blood test when the accused refuses to submit to a blood draw.

McNeely Exceptions

The McNeely case provided limited exceptions for the rule against warrantless blood tests. For a warrantless blood draw to yield admissible evidence, the Supreme Court ruled that:

Police must prove that exigent circumstances prevented them from obtaining a warrant for the blood test, and that the blood test was conducted in a reasonable manner.

But for cases that transpired before the McNeely ruling, the court considered the good faith of the police as an exigent circumstance that excused the absence of a warrant.

People v. Harris

Police arrested the accused Anthony Harris for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol or a drug and for allegedly being under the influence of a controlled substance. After pleading not guilty to both charges, the accused moved to suppress evidence obtained from a warrantless blood draw that was forced on him.

In allowing the evidence obtained from the warrantless blood test, the appellate court explained that Harris was arrested before the Supreme Court issued the McNeely ruling.

Before the McNeely case, police were allowed to conduct a warrantless blood draw if they had probable cause for a charge of DUI and were able to cite exigent circumstances such as the natural dissipation of alcohol in the accused’s bloodstream.

In the case of Harris, the court ruled that the police acted in good faith when they relied on the prevailing rule at the time of Harris’s arrest. The court considered their good faith as an exception to the rule excluding evidence obtained in a warrantless blood draw.

Dealing with a DUI Charge

If you or someone you know is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or a drug or prohibited substance, you may be entitled to appropriate DUI defenses that are available in your situation. Your criminal defense attorney can assess your case, weigh the prosecution’s evidence against you, and build a strong criminal defense strategy for you.

In Los Angeles, California, the law office of David S. Kestenbaum has more than three decades of criminal defense experience, helping clients build effective DUI defense strategies with favorable outcomes.

We invite you to call our offices today at (818) 616-4312 to speak to an attorney about your situation.