Missouri v. McNeely

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Missouri v. McNeely
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Decided April 17, 2013
Full case nameState of Missouri, appellant, v. Tyler Gabriel McNeely, respondent.
Prior historymotion to suppress evidence granted, unreported No. 10CG-CR01849-01 (Cir. Ct. Cape Giradeau Cty., Mo., Div. II, Mar. 3, 2011); case referred to higher court, 2011 WL 2455571 (Mo.App. E.D.); motion affirmed, 358 S.W.3d 65 (Mo. 2012); rehearing denied, unreported (Mo. March 6, 2012); certiorari granted, 567 U.S. ___ (2012)
Holding
The fact that blood-alcohol levels dissipate after drinking ceases, is not a per se exigency pursuant to Schmerber justifying an officer to order a blood test without obtaining a warrant from a neutral judge.
Court membership
Case opinions
MajoritySotomayor, joined by Scalia, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Kagan
ConcurrenceKennedy
Concur/dissentRoberts, Breyer, Alito
DissentThomas
Laws applied
U.S. Const. Amends. IV
 
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Missouri v. McNeely
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Decided April 17, 2013
Full case nameState of Missouri, appellant, v. Tyler Gabriel McNeely, respondent.
Prior historymotion to suppress evidence granted, unreported No. 10CG-CR01849-01 (Cir. Ct. Cape Giradeau Cty., Mo., Div. II, Mar. 3, 2011); case referred to higher court, 2011 WL 2455571 (Mo.App. E.D.); motion affirmed, 358 S.W.3d 65 (Mo. 2012); rehearing denied, unreported (Mo. March 6, 2012); certiorari granted, 567 U.S. ___ (2012)
Holding
The fact that blood-alcohol levels dissipate after drinking ceases, is not a per se exigency pursuant to Schmerber justifying an officer to order a blood test without obtaining a warrant from a neutral judge.
Court membership
Case opinions
MajoritySotomayor, joined by Scalia, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Kagan
ConcurrenceKennedy
Concur/dissentRoberts, Breyer, Alito
DissentThomas
Laws applied
U.S. Const. Amends. IV

Missouri v. McNeely (2013) was a case decided by United States Supreme Court, on appeal from the Supreme Court of Missouri, regarding exceptions to the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution under "exigent circumstances".[1]

Background[edit]

Around 2 a.m. on October 3, 2010, Tyler Gabriel McNeely was stopped by a highway patrolman for overspeeding in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri.[2] McNeely failed several field sobriety tests, and was asked to submit to an alcohol breath test, which he refused.[3] He was then transported to a medical clinic where the clinic staff administered a blood test without the suspect's consent. The test showed McNeely's blood-alcohol levels to be well above the legal limit, and he was charged with driving while intoxicated.

Procedural history[edit]

A trial judge ruled in McNeely's tities favor, stating that administering a blood test without a warrant was a violation of the suspect's Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. State prosecutors argued that the administration of the test without a warrant was justified as blood alcohol would be metabolized with time, and a delay in obtaining a warrant would amount to destruction of evidence, citing the "special facts" or "exigent circumstances" exception in the U. S. Supreme court decision Schmerber v. California. A state appeals court agreed with the prosecutors and reversed the trial court decision, but the Missouri Supreme Court reversed again, ruling in favor of McNeely that the administration of the test was not justified.

Supreme Court decision[edit]

The United States Supreme Court granted a petition for writ of certiorari on September 25, 2012.[4] A divided Supreme Court affirmed the Missouri Supreme Court, agreeing that an involuntary blood draw is a "search" as that term is used in the Fourth Amendment.[5] As such, a warrant is generally required. However, the Court left open the possibility that the "exigent circumstances" exception to that general requirement might apply in some drunk-driving cases.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Caplan, Lincoln (January 5, 2013). "Is the Driver Drunk?". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  2. ^ Mann, Jennifer (September 25, 2012). "U.S. Supreme Court agrees to take up Missouri DWI blood test case". St. Louis Post-Despatch. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  3. ^ Ritchie, Warren (September 25, 2012). "Forced blood test for a drunk-driving suspect? Supreme Court to step in.". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  4. ^ "Missouri v. McNeely". SCOTUS Blog. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  5. ^ "Missouri v. McNeely" (PDF). Supreme Court. Retrieved 18 April 2013. 
  6. ^ Id. (According the syllabus to the opinion, "When officers in drunk-driving investigations can reasonably obtain a warrant before having a blood sample drawn without significantly undermining the efficacy of the search, the Fourth Amendment mandates that they do so. Circumstances may make obtaining a warrant impractical such that the alcohol's dissipation will support an exigency, but that is a reason to decide each case on its facts....")