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Missouri Supreme Court debates rapid testing of DUI suspects.

Drinking and driving is a serious offense. When someone is caught by the police, their license can be suspended or taken away, and the person can find themselves with substantial jail time. In some cases, police make use of blood testing in DUI cases. Legally, the allowable blood-alcohol limit for drivers in the United States is .08 percent.

At present, there is a split in the courts on the issue of whether police should have a warrant before suspected drunk drivers have to submit to a blood test. The US Supreme Court recently agreed to hear a case to resolve that split.

The appeal stems from a Missouri DUI case from October 2010, in which a man was caught speeding by a highway patrolman. His blood-alcohol content was measured to be at about twice the legal limit at a local hospital.

According to the state of Missouri, police should not have had to wait to gain a warrant in the case, because alcohol dissipates quickly in the blood, but the state court decided in January that this argument violated the Fourth Amendment. This constitutional amendment protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The immediate testing, according to the Missouri Supreme Court, was not absolutely necessary because there was no legitimate reason for doing so. Court decisions in various states have provided conflicting conclusions regarding the drawing of blood from suspected drunk drivers.

Criminal cases sometimes involve legal issues that are in dispute. A skilled attorney will not only uphold a defendant's personal rights during an investigation and build a strong case at trial, but also be prepared to appeal a case where the legal issues warrant doing so.

Source: Reuters, "Supreme Court to address blood testing for drunk driving," Terry Baynes and Jonathan Stempel, September 25, 2012

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