The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard cases pertaining to DWI laws in Minnesota and North Dakota which require drivers to submit to certain chemical test if suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol.
These laws, known as “implied consent” laws, require drivers in more than a dozen states to submit to chemical tests of breath, blood and urine if police officers suspect that an individual is driving under the influence of alcohol.
The implied consent law requires drivers to submit to these tests even if police do not obtain a search warrant and refusing to do so is considered a crime.
Arguments For & Against Implied Consent Laws
Driver’s who have been prosecuted under implied consent laws argue that these laws violate a citizen’s Constitutional rights, which ban unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment.
On the other hand, attorneys for the states that have implied consent laws argue that in return for the privilege of driving on public roads, drivers should agree to submit to these tests.
So far, it seems that U.S. Supreme Court Justices are much more open to the idea of warrant-less breath tests, but seem skeptical of warrant-less blood tests, which many Justices consider to be too invasive to administer without a warrant.
About The Current Implied Consent Laws
In many states, including Pennsylvania, it is a crime for a driver to refuse to submit to a chemical test (breath, blood or urine) if he or she is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol.
The penalties for a chemical test refusal can be quite severe. For example, the penalties for refusing a breath, blood or urine test in Pennsylvania includes a mandatory license suspension of one year.
To learn more about PA’s implied consent laws and your right’s as a driver, click here.
The Debate Is Heating Up
The heavily-debated implied consent law has become increasingly controversial recently as some states, which had previously enforced implied consent laws, determined the law to be unconstitutional and now give drivers the right to refuse chemical tests if a warrant is not obtained by law enforcement officers.
For example, on February 26th, 2016, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled the State’s implied consent law for breath and blood tests to be unconstitutional.
Now, drivers in Kansas can withdraw consent to such tests if law enforcement has not obtained a search warrant.
It is expected that a decision will be reached by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the Minnesota and North Dakota implied consent laws within the next two months.