The Wisconsin Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] on Wednesday that law enforcement can take blood samples from unconscious drivers without a warrant in certain situations. The court stated that these circumstances include when delaying would lead to the destruction of evidence, such as blood alcohol levels. The case resulted [AP report] from the case of David Howes, who crashed his motorcycle into a deer. Howes was unconscious and smelled of alcohol when law enforcement arrived and took blood samples at the hospital without Howes’ consent.
Whether a warrant is required in various blood alcohol tests has become increasingly controversial in the last few years. Last June the Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that governments can required suspected drunk drivers to undergo a blood alcohol test without a warrant but could not require them to take a blood test. In October 2015 the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled [JURIST report] that an officer must obtain a warrant in order to test the blood of a person suspected of driving while intoxicated (DWI). In 2014 both the Texas 13th Court of Appeals and Nevada Supreme Court [JURIST reports] ruled that implied consent laws, which allow officers to take blood without consent, were unconstitutional. However a year earlier in 2013 the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld [JURIST report] the state’s implied consent law.