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Posts From September 2019

Photograph: Judge Daniel Coble. Warrantless Blood Tests and Unconscious Drivers – What United States v. Mitchell Does (and Doesn’t) Say by Professor Jeffrey Jackson | September 10, 2019
On June 27, 2019, the last day of the term, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Mitchell v. Wisconsin, __ U.S. ___, No. 18-6210 (June 27, 2019). The case, which addressed a blood draw conducted on an unconscious DUI suspect, was overshadowed by the two other cases handed down that day, one declaring partisan gerrymandering to be a nonjusticiable political question, and another continuing to block the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Further, what coverage Mitchell received tended to be misleading, suggesting that the Court’s rule actually went further than it did. However, Mitchell, in which the Court, in a plurality opinion, determined that when a driver is unconscious, cannot be given a breath test, and is required to be taken to a hospital because of his or her condition, the exigent-circumstances doctrine generally permits a blood draw without a warrant, has the potential to be a useful case for law enforcement, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges dealing with the very specific problem of a DUI suspect who is unconscious or otherwise unable to submit to a breath test.


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