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Implied Consent Laws Back Before the Supreme Court

Posted by William Bly | May 10, 2019 | 0 Comments

The Supreme Court of the United States has accepted another case involving implied consent laws. While operating under the influence (OUI) cases rarely reach even the intermediate appellate level, this will be the second time in the last five years that the Supreme Court has ruled on implied consent laws.

Supreme Court Hears New Implied Consent Case

The case is State v. Mitchell.

Police in Wisconsin got a tip that someone who looked drunk had driven off in a gray van. Later on, police found someone walking on the beach. He admitted to drinking and then driving to the beach, but had parked his car “because he felt he was too drunk to drive.”

Nearby was a gray van.

The officers performed a breathalyzer on the suspect. When the results showed a breath alcohol content (BrAC) of 0.24%, they made an arrest.

While on the way to the police station to conduct a more accurate breath test, the suspect fell asleep. Realizing that he could not be woken up and would not be able to perform another breath test, officers brought him to the hospital for a blood draw, instead. One of the officers read the sleeping suspect his rights and told him that he could withdraw his consent. Needless to say, the sleeping suspect did not withdraw his consent. The blood draw revealed a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.222%.

The man was charged with OUI and got convicted.

Implied Consent Laws Back in the Spotlight

Once again, implied consent laws are getting a close review by the Supreme Court.

The last OUI case that the Supreme Court took was Birchfield v. North Dakota. In Birchfield, the issue had also involved implied consent laws: Particularly whether people have a right to refuse a blood test when there were criminal sanctions on the table for the implied consent violation. A crucial element in Birchfield had been that the implied consent law in question was punishable with fines and jail time, rather than just a license suspension – it was a criminal conviction, not an administration infraction.

In the new case, though, the issue hinges on what it means to “consent” to a chemical test. Numerous states have laws that let police perform a warrantless blood draw on a suspected drunk driver, even if the suspect is unconscious. These laws, however, seem to skirt around an OUI suspect's Fourth Amendment rights by allowing police to conduct a search without a warrant and without any valid reason that would make a warrant unnecessary.

WTB LAW is Watching the Case Closely

WTB LAW is an OUI-defense law firm that represents people accused of drunk or drugged driving in the state of Maine. Because the outcome of State v. Mitchell could have a significant influence on future OUI charges and cases, our attorneys are closely monitoring the case.

If you have been arrested and accused of drunk driving, you need legal help to challenge the charge and win your case. Contact the attorneys of WTB LAW by calling (207) 571-8146 or by contacting them online.

About the Author

William Bly

William T. Bly, Esq. is a graduate of Rutgers College where he majored in Political Science with a minor in U.S. History. Attorney Bly attended and graduated the University of Maine School of Law. During his time in law school, Attorney Bly focused on criminal defense.

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