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Nonconsensual DUI Searches Are To Be Reviewed On A Case-By-Case Basis

In Missouri v. McNeely, 133 S. Ct. 1552 (2013), the United States Supreme Court held that in DUI investigations, the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream does not constitute an exigency in every case sufficient to justify conducting a blood test without a warrant.

McNeely was stopped for speeding and crossing the centerline. After declining to provide a breath sample, McNeely was taken to a hospital where blood was drawn without his consent and without a warrant. The results of the blood draw were above the legal limit and McNeely was charged with DUI.

McNeely moved to suppress the results as a violation of his 4th Amendment rights (a warrantless nonconsensual search) and the trial court agreed. The State Supreme Court affirmed, finding that this was a routine DUI with the normal dissipation of alcohol and that no exigent circumstances existed as in Schmerber. The United States Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the State Supreme Court and rejected the State's argument that a "per se" rule of exigency should exist if an officer has probable cause to believe that a person is driving under the influence because the essence and nature of alcohol is evanescent.

The United States Supreme Court affirmed the holding that the standard to be applied in determining exigency is a totality of the circumstances test, which is a case-by-case analysis.

For further information regarding DUI offenses in Florida, refer to our DUI Defense webpage.

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