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Monday, July 15, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

High Court to Take Up Mandatory DUI Tests

(CN) - The U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether state can criminalize refusals to submit to a chemical test after a drunken-driving arrest when police do not have a warrant.

On Friday, the high court consolidated and agreed to hear three cases, two from North Dakota and one from Minnesota, in which people who had been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving were convicted of a crime after they refused to submit to a chemical test of their breath, blood or urine.

All three men claim that state laws that make it a crime to refuse a chemical test in DUI cases violate their Fourth Amendment rights prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures, because the state isn't required to obtain search warrant before demanding the test.

In one of the North Dakota cases, that state's high court noted in its opinion affirming the conviction that even before the Legislature enacted the law criminalizing a refusal to submit to a chemical test in DUI cases, the justices held that there is "no federal constitutional right to be entirely free of intoxication tests."

The court also noted that several other states have since enacted similar laws and Fourth Amendment challenges of those laws have been unsuccessful. The North Dakota justices pointed to a challenge of Alaska's law that went to the Ninth Circuit, which held that an arrestee remains "fully capable of asserting the only Fourth Amendment right he possesses: the right to avoid arrest on less than probable cause" whether he takes or refuses the test.

At oral argument, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the question: "Whether, in the absence of a warrant, a state may make it a crime for a person to refuse to take a chemical test to detect the presence of alcohol in the person's blood."

Per its custom, the high court did not issue any comment in granting the writ of certiorari late Friday.

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