During a recent drunk driving training for Missouri prosecutors and police officers, which was sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson spoke about a new Missouri law that recently went into effect. According to Richardson, the law permits law enforcement to take a blood sample from anyone suspected of driving under the influence, even if the officer does not have a warrant for the incomparably invasive search. However, the creators of the law disagree, stating that the allowance of blood tests without a warrant is not the goal or practical effect of the law.
The law was written for the purpose of steering first-time DUI offenders toward alcohol treatment programs instead of costly jail time. In addition, it seeks to ensure that repeat offenders are punished according to their offenses. During the law’s initial drafts, it contained a provision allowing for blood samples without a warrant for suspected drunk drivers who refuse blood tests. Lawmakers changed their minds, though, and that provision did not appear in the law’s final version.
However, when the new law was created, it removed a component of a former law which served to prohibit blood samples if a motorist suspected of DUI refused any form of chemical test. Prosecutors have seized on this conspicuous void, stating that lawmakers did it intentionally. “The Legislature did that for a reason,” Richardson said, “and that reason was to allow the warrantless drawing of blood on a person that you have arrested for driving while drugged or intoxicated.”
But, according to Senator Kurt Schaefer, the authorization of blood samples without a warrant was not the legislature’s goal in passing the new law. They were merely attempting to clarify that law enforcement can seek a warrant if a motorist refuses a test.
Richardson said that he advises law enforcement to obtain warrants for blood tests, despite the alleged meaning of the new law. However, he stated that prosecutors are seeking out a favorable case to present for a court ruling on the matter. Therefore, it appears that the debate on this issue is far from over. If you are ever in a similar position, make sure to contact a reputable lawyers, like Baltimore DUI attorney for your best chance of getting your case dismissed.