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Supreme Court Strikes Down Warrantless Blood Tests in DWI Cases

By Richard J. Lehmann – Concord NH Criminal Lawyer

The United State Supreme Court issued a decision that could limit the power of law enforcement officers to investigate and prosecute DWI cases in New Hampshire. The decision of Missouri v. McNeely should be of immediate concern to any person facing a DWI charge. If you have a DWI charge pending in court, you should immediately find out if today’s ruling helps your case. Today’s decision may be the first step toward rolling back what DWI defense experts sometimes refer to as the “DWI exception to the Constitution.”

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects us all against unreasonable searches and seizures of our homes, belongings, and bodies. Under the Fourth Amendment and the New Hampshire Constitution, a search warrant issued by a judge is required to authorize a search. However, an exception is made for emergency situations. One of these exceptions involves DWI cases.

One of the main ways that police officers collect evidence to prosecute DWI cases is by getting a blood or breath sample and having it analyzed for blood alcohol content (BAC). Because the body is constantly removing alcohol from the blood, courts have held that gathering this evidence constitutes an emergency under the Fourth Amendment. In other words, no warrant was required to seize a DWI suspect’s blood.

Today, the Supreme Court changed that. The Supreme Court held that the mere fact that BAC would be lowered while police obtained a warrant from a judge would no longer constitute an emergency under the Fourth Amendment.

DWI cases require specialized knowledge that can only be gained through experience handling this kind of case. If you have been charged with a crime or believe your rights have been violated, you should consult an experienced criminal lawyer at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. at 1-800-240-1988 or fill out our online contact form for a case evaluation.

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Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. attorneys represent clients in courts throughout New Hampshire, including Concord, Manchester, Nashua, Salem, Rochester, Portsmouth, Laconia, Plymouth, Franklin, Keene, Lebanon, Littleton, Hampton, Hooksett, Derry, Claremont, Goffstown, North Conway, Exeter, Durham, Plaistow, Henniker, Newport, Milford, Merrimack, Hillsborough, Bow, Hopkinton. We also represent clients in all counties, including Merrimack County, Belknap County, Carroll County, Cheshire County, Coos County, Grafton County, Hillsborough County, Rockingham County, Strafford County and Sullivan County.

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