Are Implied Consent DUI Laws Constitutional?

By February 4, 2016Thomas Law Firm

“Implied consent” is the term used to describe the nationwide policies regarding suspected DUI drivers who refuse to submit to breath or blood sobriety testing during DUI arrests and stops. The laws differ between states, but generally result in automatic license suspension alongside possible criminal charges.

To many in the field of DUI, implied consent laws are believed to be unconstitutional based on the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees protection against unwarranted search and seizure.

The basic argument of those who believe implied consent is unconstitutional is that the laws place undue burden on defendants by requiring them to provide evidence of their alleged crimes without due process and prior to actual conviction.

Implied consent laws, the critics argue, do not need to exist because police already have the tools they need to force DUI breath or blood tests: warrants.

The Supreme Court Takes on Implied Consent

Three cases have been accepted and consolidated into one by the U.S. Supreme Court to answer the question of implied consent laws’ constitutionality.

SCOTUS has taken on implied consent laws before in the 2013 case of Missouri v. McNeely, which says that in most cases, a warrant is required before police can draw blood for a suspect that has refused testing or is unable to cooperate. The body’s metabolism of alcohol, the court decided, does not create circumstances wherein a person’s Fourth Amendment rights should be violated. Police have an interest in obtaining timely BAC test results because BAC is the best evidence police have to pursue a conviction, but the court ruled that the Fourth Amendment supersedes the police need for timely testing without a warrant. Based on that decision, some states have already altered their implied consent laws.

If you have been charged with DUI in Denver, the services of a drunk driving attorney can help you get your charges reduced or dropped.


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