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U.S. Supreme Court divided on DWI/DUI: murkiness merits an attorney

What can a police officer in North Carolina or elsewhere across the country do -- that is, dictate to a motorist -- in a stop focusing on alleged drinking-while-driving behavior?

In sharper terms, where is the legal line drawn on testing that can be ordered absent a warrant that authorizes an intrusive encounter with a detained driver?

In terms of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, that intrusiveness centered on breathalyzer testing and blood draws, respectively.

A number of states have long allowed a police officer to demand that a motorist submit to either type of testing in instances where a warrant has not been secured (a North Carolina resident with questions or concerns regarding state law on this subject might reasonably want to consult with local counsel well versed in all nuances of North Carolina DWI/DUI rules and processes).

The nation's high court ultimately determined (albeit with sharp divisions) that, while an executed warrant must precede a blood test, that requirement is waived when a police officer asks a motorist to submit to a breath test. As noted in a national media report on the court's ruling issued late last month, a majority of justices agreed "that simple breath tests do not implicate significant privacy concerns."

Conversely, though, the court held that such is not the case with blood draws, where a warrant is required.

The case underscores the complexity of police/citizen DWI/DUI encounters that are coupled with officers' allegations of illegal behind-the-wheel behavior. The "where to draw the line" determination regarding breath-versus- blood testing is but one of many material considerations that can arise in a DWI stop.

A proven defense attorney with a demonstrated record of advocacy on behalf of motorists who are detained in DWI/DUI matters can address all such considerations and ensure that a client receives diligent and tailored legal representation aimed at promoting best interests and an optimal outcome following an alleged drunk driving stop.

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Law Office of Christopher A. Connelly
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