New Decision From Supreme Court Upholds Breath Tests During DWI Stops

Dallas firefighters at scene of deadly car crash. (@FOX4Terry, Terry Van Sickle)

Another reminder why this is such an important issue

Early Thursday the driver of a Mercedes died after running into a tree at the intersection of Royal Lane and Inwood Road. The Dallas auto crash, which occurred at 3:30 a.m., was presumably caused by the over consumption of alcohol and/or drugs. Fortunately, no one else died or was injured.

Getting drunk drivers off the roads before they hurt themselves — or us — is an upward battle for police. With Texas leading the nation in drunk driving deaths, this is a battle we cannot afford to lose.

But the number of drunk driving fatalities increased by 8.2 percent in 2015, putting the year’s total DUI deaths at 1,446. This accounted for over 40 percent of all traffic deaths.

You’d think that we’d be trying to figure out a way to stop this deadly epidemic, right?

Is warrantless testing of blood alcohol concentration a violation of the Fourth Amendment?

The breathalyzer measures blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in the breath. At .08 percent a driver is presumed drunk and must defeat that presumption to be acquitted of DWI. By refusing to submit to the breathalyzer, a driver forces the prosecution to build its case on other evidence, such as field sobriety test performance, dashcam video of driving behavior and police officer testimony as to the driver’s appearance and demeanor during the traffic stop.

In some states, refusing to take submit to the breathalyzer is a crime and in every state the driver at least faces loss of driving privileges. A driver may even be compelled to submit to a blood test.

Mixed decision from U. S. Supreme Court

Several drivers challenged both as a violation of Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches.

On Thursday the court issued two decisions regarding the legality of compelling submission to the breath test and to the blood test — one helpful for police, the other not.

In Birchfield v. North Dakota, the Court decided in a 7 to 1 vote that the law that requires a driver to submit to a blood test violated the Fourth Amendment’s ban.

However in a 6 to 2 vote, the court upheld the law that requires a driver to submit to a breathalyzer.

What does the Supreme Court decision mean to you?

DUI investigation in Texas remains the basically the same after Thursday’s release of the U.S. Supreme Court decision, but in other states, enforcement will be easier.

We can help

Berenson Injury Law is an experienced personal injury law firm that has fought for Dallas-Fort Worth car and truck accident victims for the past 36 years. As a MADD-approved attorney, I represent many people harmed by these easily preventable collisions.

We have to get these intoxicated and stoned drivers off of our roads here in DFW.

Stories like the one above should not be commonplace. Deaths and injuries from DWI crashes should not be taken for granted.

Related post:

Repeat Drunk Driver Gets Life Sentence For Death of Child in FW

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