The American criminal justice system is built on a system of principles and laws that provide rights to individuals who are stopped, detained, and arrested in connection to criminal offenses. These principles ensure you are treated in accordance to the law, and that law enforcement officers adhere to rules of procedure that dictate what they can and cannot do. Should a law enforcement officer fail to abide by these rules, your rights may be violated, and your case changed entirely.
Under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, you are protected from unlawful search and seizure. This means law enforcement officers must have not only reasonable suspicion to stop you in order to determine your connection to a possible crime, but also justification – from a valid search warrant, arrest warrant, or probable cause – to conduct any search of your property or person, initiate any seizure of your property, or make an arrest.
Implied Consent & Blood Draws
Like every other state, Indiana has an implied consent law, which means all drivers who obtain a license and operate a motor vehicle implicitly agree to submit to chemical testing when asked to do so by a law enforcement officer. This primarily applies to situations involving driving under the influence (DUI), or operating while intoxicated (OWI) as it is known in Indiana.
If you or someone you love has been arrested for DUI, Indiana’s implied consent law requires that you submit to a chemical test in order to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC) or any presence of controlled substances. Failure to submit to a chemical test can result in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license.
Under a recent Supreme Court ruling in 2016, Justices ruled that there are limits to implied consent laws when it comes to conducting chemical tests of DUI suspects:
- Police do not need a search warrant to administer breath tests to DUI suspects.
- Police must have a warrant to obtain a driver’s blood for testing.
This ruling was made to prevent states from criminalizing a suspect’s refusal of blood testing, which is considered more intrusive than a breath test. However, suspects can still be penalized for refusing breath tests when asked to do so by an officer who has probable cause, and no warrant.
Indiana Laws & Your Rights
Indiana has required law enforcement officers to secure search warrants for blood draws of DUI suspects since 2013, when another Supreme Court decision addressed a similar issue. As such, the 2016 SCOTUS decision had little impact in the state. Although most law enforcement officers do obtain search warrants prior to testing a suspect’s blood, there may be cases when they do not, which allows a defendant to assert their Fourth Amendment right and dispute their blood evidence as an unlawful search and seizure.
In addition to determining whether officers had a valid search warrant prior to testing a suspect’s blood, our Noblesville DUI Attorneys investigate all aspects surrounding our clients’ arrests in order to raise challenges that can help their cases. This includes exploration of whether law enforcement officers had reasonable suspicion to stop a driver, as well as sufficient probable cause to conduct a breath test. Should it be found that they did not, any evidence obtained after the fact would constitute an unlawful search and seizure, and therefore be inadmissible in a case.