State v. McNeely 358 S.W.3d 65 MO. (2012)
The defendant was stopped by a Missouri state highway patrolman for speeding and during this stop the trooper noticed that the defendant was displaying all the tell-tale signs of being intoxicated; blood shot eyes, slurred speech, and the smell of alcohol on his breath. This stop then changed from being a speeding stop to a DWI investigation. The trooper had the defendant get out of his truck and perform standard field sobriety tests. The defendant did poorly on the test so the trooper arrested him for driving while intoxicated then, he asked him to take a breathalyzer which the defendant refused. The trooper then drove the defendant to the hospital to obtain a blood test to verify its alcohol content level. Once at the hospital the defendant refused the blood test but the trooper demanded it be done anyway, without securing a warrant, based on what he believed was a recent change in the law since time is critical to blood-alcohol content levels. The blood sample was analyzed and the defendant’s blood alcohol content was well over the legal limit. The trooper believed at the time that officers no longer needed to obtain warrants for nonconsensual blood test, due to a change in Missouri’s implied consent laws FN2. This belief was based on an article written by a traffic safety resource prosecutor. The defendant moved to suppress the results of the blood alcohol test as evidence, citing that the blood draw was a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. The trial court sustained the motion. The Circuit Court, Cape Girardeau County and state appealed.
Did the State Trooper violate the defendants Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizures with the warrantless blood draw? Is the natural dissipation of blood-alcohol evidence alone a sufficient necessity to dispense with the warrant requirement under the fourth amendment?
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