Is There a Doctor in the (Station) House?: Reassessing the Constitutionality of Compelled DWI Blood Draws Forty-Five Years after Schmerber
35 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2011
Date Written: January 1, 2011
The vast majority of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence of the last century has been dedicated to parsing the physical and intangible boundaries of the home, developing the expectation of privacy, and, as of late, exploring the constitutional implications of an increasingly electronic society. In the midst of this development, one major area has quietly fallen by the wayside - the preservation of bodily integrity. As technology has rendered the human body an ever-increasing source of crucial evidence, the Supreme Court has remained largely silent on the government’s power to harvest information through medical procedures. Since the Court’s consideration of the constitutionality of compelled blood draws in Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757 (1966), the Fourth Amendment questions attendant to bodily evidence have been largely left to the states. This Article examines a narrow subset of that state-level development: non-consensual DWI blood draws. A review of the state statutory and jurisprudential applications of Schmerber reveals increasing disagreement over the scope of the Fourth Amendment when police seek to recover fleeting evidence of blood alcohol content. Based on this review, this Article suggests a number of policy proposals designed to better insure police stay within the Fourth Amendment strictures of Schmerber while also procuring the most effective evidence possible.
Keywords: Evidence, Fourth Amendment, Seizure
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