From The Wall Street Journal
Supreme Court justices showed unease Wednesday about letting police without a search warrant draw a blood sample from an unwilling drunken-driving
suspect, but they also expressed sympathy for the urgency faced by officers in such traffic stops.
The justices heard arguments in a hot-button case on constitutional rights from Missouri, where authorities stuck a needle into the arm of handcuffed suspect Tyler McNeely.
The state, backed by the Obama administration, said it shouldn't have to wait for a magistrate's approval because blood-alcohol level diminishes after a person stops drinking. Mr. McNeely's lawyers said his Fourth Amendment protection against "unreasonable searches" was violated. They said 25 states explicitly require warrants for involuntary blood draws, suggesting the safeguard is workable.
Justices looked for middle ground between the two positions, although it wasn't clear if they could find it.
By requiring police to obtain a search warrant, often done through a telephone call to an on-duty magistrate, "you have a second judgment," said Justice Stephen Breyer. "The officer has to talk to somebody, so he's a little more careful. And that's a protection...for others who maybe weren't wobbling."
On the other hand, he continued, many states "want to enforce strict rules against drunk driving," and sometimes "it's not easy to get hold of a magistrate in 15 minutes."
A decision in the case, Missouri v. McNeely, is expected before July.