On June 27, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court decision changed a part of the Fourth Amendment for DUI drivers. The Court ruled that if an unconscious person is suspected of driving under the influence, and there is an accident, an officer is allowed to draw blood from the suspect. 

Recently, drawing blood from an unconscious person was considered a violation of the Fourth Amendment, seen as a bodily intrusion. Due to this, officers were required to obtain a warrant before drawing blood from someone who was suspected of driving under the influence. 

What caused this change was the Supreme Court case, Mitchell v. Wisconsin in April of 2019. In May of 2013, Gerald Mitchell was arrested for driving under the influence. However, Mitchell lost consciousness as he was being taken to the police station, so he was taken to a hospital.

Although officers read to Mitchell the state implied consent form, Mitchell was unconscious and could not comprehend it. Without a warrant, the officers had Mitchell’s blood drawn.  Mitchell’s blood alcohol levels were deemed to be .222.

After Mitchell was charged with a DUI, he challenged the warrantless blood draw as a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.  It takes only minutes to get a warrant from a judge. The state of Wisconsin argued that Mitchell gave consent when he began to drive on a public highway. On a 5-4 vote the Supreme court, ruled that officers are allowed to draw blood from a person suspected of driving under the influence– in an exigent circumstance. 

This decision is based on the fact that as time passes, it is possible to lose evidence of a suspect driving under the influence.  Alcohol in the bloodstream dissipates over time, so an officer can justifiably draw blood from a suspect in order to “prevent the imminent destruction of evidence.”

With this new ruling, defendants throughout the country will have their blood taken, whether they consent or not, and whether a judge signed off on it or not.