Warrant required for blood draw from drunk drivers

By: Sarah Moon
By: Sarah Moon

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Law enforcement officers will have to get warrant before taking a blood draw from drunk drivers.

That ruling came down from the Supreme Court this week.

Before the ruling law enforcement officers could take a driver to the hospital for a blood test if they believed a driver was drunk.

Now they’ll have to get a warrant from a judge before that’s done.

“I’m very happy with the ruling. It ensures that people won’t be subjected to a blood draw, unless there’s probable cause,” said OWI Defense Attorney Todd Schroeder.

“Laws change, decisions come down frequently that affect how we handle them. This is a major one, but it’s something we’ll be able to work through,” La Crosse County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jeffrey Wolf.

The La Crosse County Sheriff’s Office said the ruling will create more work for law enforcement, but they don’t think it have too much impact, because of Wisconsin’s implied consent law.

That means if you’re pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving, and don’t take a breath, urine or blood test, you lose your license for at least a year.

“Based on previous decisions we always forcibly took the blood test, so we had the evidentiary value,” said Wolf.

Despite the ruling, Wolf said they still have mobile cameras, officer testimony and many times witness testimony.

He also said he thinks prosecutors will feel more of an impact.

And Schroeder said there’s still some unanswered questions about the ruling.

“The big question is does this change pending cases where officers did not seek a warrant, and currently someone is facing a trial or facing a charge right now involving a forced blood draw?” said Schroeder.

We tried talking to the La Crosse County District Attorney’s Office, but they were unavailable for comment.

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