South Dakota's Attorney General has announced the state's implied consent law regarding blood tests in DUI investigations has been holding up, despite the United States Supreme Court ruling on Missouri v. McNeely in April, but it is an issue that may need to be discussed in the upcoming legislative session.
South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley issued a news release Wednesday stating favorable court rulings in Lawrence and Pennington counties involving the legality of South Dakota's implied consent laws.
In April, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotamayor announced the court's ruling on Missouri v. McNeely. In the case, McNeely was pulled over for speeding and crossing the centerline. During the investigation he denied a breathalyzer test, so the officer took McNeely to the hospital to determine McNeely's BAC through a blood test that was issued, to which McNeely still did not give consent.
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled the nonconsensual warrantless test violated McNeely's right to be free from unreasonable searches.
The ruling has since drawn concerns about South Dakota's and other states' implied consent law for blood tests when signing a driver's license. So far, South Dakota's law has been upheld in two cases. On July 11, the circuit court judge in Lawrence County determined McNeely was not applicable since it did not address the legality of a warrantless withdrawal of blood under South Dakota's law. The judge further determined that the Defendant did not establish that a warrantless search conducted under the implied consent laws was unconstitutional, according to a news release from the South Dakota Attorney General's Office.
On July 12, a magistrate court judge issued a letter opinion denying a Defendant's motion to suppress or exclude from evidence results of a blood test in a Pennington Count DUI case. The judge said McNeely was not applicable and the implied consent law was constitutional.
According to the news release from the Attorney General's Office, "a number of judges have denied motions to suppress without addressing the constitutionality of the implied consent laws based solely upon the officer's good faith reliance upon the implied consent laws and the South Dakota Supreme Court's pre-McNeely decisions upholding the legality of these types of warrantless searches."
Attorney General Jackley noted in the release that though there have been a number of favorable rulings for South Dakota's law, but there has been one unfavorable ruling granting a defendant's motion to suppress the blood test and results. However, the defendant was convicted at trial without the blood test results.
The Attorney General's office ended the news release stating, "It is anticipated that the South Dakota Supreme Court will ultimately address what effect, if any, the United States Supreme Court decision in Missouri v. McNeely may have on the state's implied consent law. It is further anticipated that the State's DUI implied consent law and its affect upon public safety may further necessitate discussion this upcoming legislative session."
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