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Does alcohol testing without a search warrant violate your rights?

The flashing lights reflecting in your rear-view mirror. The chirp of a siren. The police officer's slow walk to your car. 

Those seemingly small incidents can set in motion life-changing events. The immediacy of a drunk driving investigation prevents equally immediate legal representation. You will also need to make quick decisions on submitting or refusing alcohol testing without a search warrant.

These issues were highlighted this past April 20 when the Supreme Court heard arguments challenging the constitutionality of state laws criminalizing refusals to test for alcohol in drivers' blood, breath or urine without a search warrant. Drivers' and their attorneys claim that the laws are unconstitutional, violating the Constitution's ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

During the proceeding, Justice Anthony Kennedy argued that the states' request for "an extraordinary exception" criminalizes those asserting their constitutional rights. Other justices questioned why police couldn't secure a warrant before requesting a driver submit to an alcohol test. They cited states where on telephone call to a judge would result in a warrant in five to fifteen minutes.

Attorneys representing the states claim that rural areas have smaller police forces without a judge on call, creating burdens and putting public safety at risk. In addition, a driver who still refuses the test with a warrant will face lesser charges of obstructing a warrant.

While the attorneys challenged Minnesota and North Dakota State Supreme Court rulings that uphold the law, a ruling in their favor will also affect Nebraska and nine other states that also criminalize drivers' refusals.

Regardless of the Supreme Court ruling, drunk driving charges require immediate representation from an experienced DUI defense attorney.

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