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Wisconsin Supreme Court rules police can take blood from unconscious drivers in certain circumstances
Wisconsin Supreme Court rules police can take blood from unconscious drivers in certain circumstances

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.