On April 17, 2013, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Missouri v. McNeely. The question in this case was whether the Fourth Amendment's “exigent circumstances” doctrine permits a law enforcement officer to take a warrantless, nonconsensual blood sample from a drunk driver because of natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream over time. The Supreme Court of Missouri concluded that the exigency exception to the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement did not apply, and ruled in favor of the defendant.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Sotomayor, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the state supreme court's judgment by a vote of 5-4. The natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream, the Court held, does not create in every drunk driving case an exigency sufficient to justify conducting a blood test without first obtaining a warrant. Justice Sotomayor announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II–A, II–B, and IV, in which Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Ginsburg and Kagan joined, and an opinion with respect to Parts II–C and III in which Justices Scalia, Ginsburg, and Kagan joined. Justice Kennedy filed an opinion concurring in part. Chief Justice Roberts filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, which was joined by Justices Breyer and Alito. Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion.
To discuss the case we have Prerak Shah, an associate in the Dallas office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.