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Could US Supreme court ruling change laws in Pa?

By Will Lewis, Reporter, WLewis@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 10 2013 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 11 2013 09:21:25 AM CST

It's a decision that could affect anyone suspected of drunk driving.

It's a decision that could affect anyone suspected of drunk driving.

The U.S. Supreme Court is weighing whether police can order a blood test for drunk driving suspects without a warrant.

The case started in 2010 when a Missouri man was stopped, and blood was drawn without his consent.

In Pennsylvania, police said warrant-less blood draws are not an issue because of implied consent, but that could change.

Chief Roger MacLean, Allentown Police Dept., said cracking down on drunk drivers has been more in the forefront for law enforcement over the years.

“DUI enforcement is more strict now than it was maybe 15 years ago,” said MacLean.

Does being strict mean infringing on the rights of a driver? A U.S. Supreme court case is currently being argued.

In 2010, a man was forced to have his blood drawn in Missouri without his consent or a warrant. Missouri has the same implied consent law as Pennsylvania, but the American Civil Liberties Union feels warrant-less blood draws are unconstitutional.

“Our position is that the 4th amendment requires greater safeguards for personal privacy," said Ezekiel Edwards, director of the criminal law project for the ACLU. "That the warrant requirement which is in the constitution is fundamental.”

The Supreme Court has made a decision that if the driver is in an accident or causes harm to an individual, a blood draw could be done without a warrant.

The issue gets hazy when it comes to a regular stop, and DUI is suspected.

“While there will be cases where maybe a warrant cannot be obtained that certainly wouldn't apply to all cases and we ask the court to reject the rule," said Edwards.

The law in Pennsylvania, police said, is clear.

You read about implied consent when you get your license and if stopped because an officer suspects you of driving under the influence. Even then the officer explains the law to the driver.

“Routinely, when we pick up somebody that is suspected of driving under the influence, the person is taken to the processing center where blood is drawn,” said MacLean.

“There's been no evidence and there has been none put forward by Missouri that conviction rates are any higher in states that are more likely to use warrant-less blood draws, than those that use warrants," said Edwards.

A lot of states will be watching the ruling on this case.

The ACLU said if warrant-less blood tests are rendered illegal, 27 states, including Pennsylvania, will be affected.