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Supreme Court rules on DUI test laws

Seattle residents may recognize that chemical testing is typically needed to identify the level of intoxication in a case of suspected DUI. However, some motorists are uncooperative when an official attempts to use breath testing during a traffic stop. Similarly, some motorists refuse blood testing, which is a more invasive option for assessing blood alcohol content. The nation's highest court recently limited certain state laws that treated a refusal as a separate crime.

Three cases from two states were brought before the justices as the need for a search warrant was addressed. Each case was originally decided in favor of the states in question being able to require blood testing without search warrants. These decisions were upheld in each state's supreme court. However, a five-justice majority of the nation's Supreme Court ruled that search warrants are necessary for blood testing related to DUI. Breath testing was not viewed as being overly invasive, and the justices did not require that warrants be issued for this type of BAC evaluation. Although legal representatives on the states' sides suggested that warrants could be problematic in rural settings, justices indicated that such needs can often be handled by phone in a short amount of time.

Search and seizure was at the heart of the case, and the ruling affirms a citizen's right to protection from unreasonable treatment in this area. Chemical testing is just one area in which a defendant in a DUI case might seek a dismissal of charges related to errors in protocol or in handling of evidence. Important legal issues might include the custody of chemical evidence, the reading of one's Miranda rights, and the oversight of field sobriety testing.

An individual might find that legal assistance is helpful for addressing protocol errors related to an alleged DUI. A lawyer could evaluate the evidence to determine whether charges could potentially be dropped or reduced.

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