Forced blood tests allowed to stand
Wisconsin ruling says Fourth Amendment not violated
Tuesday, January 18, 2005 Posted: 10:56 AM EST (1556 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court declined to consider Tuesday whether a police officer may take a blood test from a suspected drunken driver without a warrant.
Justices let stand a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling that said a forced blood test would not violate the driver's Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable searches, even if the driver already had submitted to a breath test.
The lower court reasoned that police's urgent need to obtain reliable evidence before alcohol dissipates from a driver's bloodstream justified a warrantless blood test.
The case stems from a traffic stop in February 2002. Police stopped Jacob Faust and gave him a preliminary breath test that showed a 0.13 blood alcohol content.
Faust also gave a second breath test at the police department.
That test showed a blood alcohol content of 0.09, just above the 0.08 limit Faust was to adhere to because he had two prior drunken driving convictions.
Police then took a blood test from Faust at a hospital without his consent. That test showed a 0.10 level.
The trial court granted Faust's motion to suppress the results of the blood test after he argued there was no urgent need to justify the blood draw without a warrant.
But the Wisconsin Supreme Court disagreed, ruling that police had a right since they can't predict whether a breath test will be found reliable in court.
The case is Faust v. Wisconsin, 04-471.