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Forced blood tests allowed to stand

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.

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