On April 17, 2013 the US Supreme Court ruled that the natural metabolization of alcohol in the bloodstream does not present a per se exigency that justifies an exception to the Fourth Amendment search warrant requirement for non-consensual blood testing in a drunk driving case. The Supreme Court held that the exigency must be decided on a case by case basis dependent on the totality of circumstances. See Missouri v. McNeely.

For a Kentucky DUI defendant this opinion means the police cannot force you to submit to a blood test unless the police can prove that the urgency of the situation allows them to disregard the 4th Amendment. I expect in cases of DUI-homicide courts will hold that an urgent situation exists and allow for non-consensual blood tests. In McNeely the state of Missouri and MADD relied on national statistics about the nationwide death toll due to DUI crimes. Missouri and MADD claimed that blood draws typically involve no risks, trauma or pain. McNeely countered by maintaining that bodily integrity is at the heart of human privacy and dignity. McNeely was also worried about the safety of police drawing blood at the location of the arrest. McNeely argued that Missouri’s desire for a warrant less blood test was unnecessary because most people submit to breath tests.

The US Supreme Court rejected the state’s position that an exigency existed solely because blood-alcohol rapidly diminished due to metabolism. The Supreme Court Rule refused to adopt a per se rule. Justin Sotomayor delivered the opinion and was joined by Scalia, Kennedy, Ginburg and Kagean.