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Blood draws for drunk driving do not need warrant, state says

The Nebraska Supreme Court recently ruled that blood draws taken without warrants can still be used, going against a precedent laid out by the U.S. Supreme Court. Many drivers submit to blood draws only after being threatened with criminal charges for drunk driving. At least one attorney has stated that he plans to ask the nation's highest court to review the Nebraska court's decision.

The U.S. Supreme Court previously ruled that blood draws during an arrest for suspected drunk drivers are not supported by the Constitution's Fourth Amendment unless there is a warrant. Made in June 2016, this decision raised questions for individuals with pending cases, including a Nebraska man who was awaiting sentencing. He had been found guilty only the day before the ruling, but had his blood drawn without a warrant.

Law enforcement agencies also expressed concern over the ruling. One Nebraska justice said that he did not believe the U.S. Supreme Court ruling completely invalidated every blood draw made without a warrant. Instead, he believes that prosecutors and the court must take the circumstances of an arrest into an account when determining whether a warrantless blood draw was voluntary. It is unclear how this decision will play out during arrests of suspected drunk drivers, as many courts have not uniformly applied the state's Supreme Court's decision.

Nebraska defendants have a lot on the line when faced with drunk driving charges, and unclear guidance from lawmakers and/or the courts can complicate matters. Most people accused of driving under the influence understand how important it is to have a solid criminal defense based on how laws and precedents are interpreted and applied. When this is not entirely clear, it is useful to work under the careful guidance of an attorney experienced in the defense of drunk driving charges.

Source: journalstar.com, "Nebraska high court: Older DUI blood draws still valid, despite U.S. Supreme Court decision", Lori Pilger, Sept. 26, 2017

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