Missouri v. McNeely – The Decision

As most have heard, the United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in the case of Missouri v. McNeely on April 17, 2013. As expected, the Court rejected the State of Missouri’s request for a per se rule of exigency in all cases of suspected driving under the influence, which would have allowed officers to obtain blood tests from suspected intoxicated drivers without a warrant. The Court confirmed that the exigency of such a situation must be examined on a case-by-case basis, and analyzed under a totality of the circumstances standard. The Court stated that: “[i]n those drunk-driving investigations where police officers can reasonably obtain a warrant before a blood sample can be drawn without significantly undermining the efficacy of the search, the Fourth Amendment mandates that they do so.”

The implications of the McNeely decision in Minnesota are yet to be revealed. Prosecutors and defense attorneys differ as to how this decision affects pending Minnesota DWI cases, and whether the decision requires modification to police practices and the Test Refusal law. Does the decision require changes to the ways that police obtain information from all drivers suspected of driving under the influence, or only those that refuse testing? Do drivers in Minnesota express voluntary consent to testing after the Implied Consent Advisory, warning that they will be charged with a crime for refusing a test? Is the Minnesota Test Refusal law constitutional? This is an area to stay in touch with as the McNeely decision is digested by Minnesota prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the courts.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/48889107219@N01/2120456561/)