Over the last few years, a new trend in DUI enforcement has been the concept of the “no refusal.” Basically, the police will use force to obtain a blood draw from a motorist who is refusing to consent to a breath test.
This has been done in different ways. Through a warrant, an emergency court order, or by simply holding the motorist down and drawing blood.
Illinois courts have stated that while defendants do not have a right to refuse a test, the police cannot use excessive force to draw blood from the individual. People v. Jones, 214 Ill.2d 187 and People v. Farris, 2012 IL App (3d) 100199.
Police and prosecutors seek to justify these blood draws under the grounds that blood alcohol evidence is the strongest evidence of intoxication, and that because alcohol eliminates from the blood rapidly, it must be drawn soon after the arrest.
Today the United States Supreme Court announced that it would be hearing a case from Missouri where a police officer took a recalcitrant motorist to a hospital and had his blood drawn. The Missouri courts suppressed the blood test, because it was taken without a warrant or a showing of “exigent circumstances.”
If the Supreme Court overturns the Missouri decision, then police will be authorized to drag anyone they suspect of driving while intoxicated to a facility where their blood can be drawn. This strikes me as a very serious infringement on our liberty.
It is not clear to me how the court will rule. The stereotypical assumptions that certain Justices are “liberal” or “conservative” do not apply in a case like this, which scrambles competing values such as the state’s need for evidence and to protect the public from drunk drivers versus a person’s right to bodily integrity, a person’s right to be free from unreasonable search and seizures, and one’s right to avoid self-incrimination.