Local implications of Supreme Court ruling on DUI blood tests

This Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court made a 7-to-1 ruling that struck down a North Dakota law imposing penalties on drivers who refused to take a warrantless blood test.

South Dakota law enforcement agencies have been required to get a warrant to conduct blood tests since 2013, but Thursday's ruling could change the future of DUI protocols.

"They're brought to the jail, and they're read a form requesting that they voluntarily supply a blood sample, and they can refuse that," Captain Mike Walsh with the Minnehaha County Sheriff's Department said.

Since 2013, if someone suspected of driving under the influence refuses a blood test, South Dakota law enforcement begin the process of getting a warrant, generally over the phone or email. It's a legal measure upheld in Thursday's Supreme Court ruling.

"If you arrest someone for DWI, it is a search, and you can get a warrant, its really easy to get a warrant," Criminal Defense attorney Sonny Water said.

With a warrant, the law says officers can forcibly take a blood sample from a DUI suspect.

"There probably isn't anything more invasive than having a foreign object stuck inside your arm...but blowing into a tube, whether it be the PBT or intoxilyzer, is not invasive," Captain Walsh said.

The Supreme Court also ruled Thursday that law enforcement do not need a warrant for a breath test.

"A breath test isn't so invasive, you're asking someone to blow, I don't know how you can make someone blow," Walter said.

With Thursday's ruling about blood tests verses breathing tests, area law enforcement may considering implementing more breathing tests like PBTs along the roadside or intoxilyzer tests in county jails rather than taking blood.

"PBT results are not admissible in court; that is simply one more piece of evidence...but an intoxilyzer is actually a large machine that sits inside a room....and can prove impairment," Captain Walsh said.

Walsh says the intoxilyzer results and blood tests results are fairly comparable, but it may be easier for law enforcement to physically take blood rather than force a breath test.

"The varieables to consider with the intoxilyzer is the amount of air the suspect might be pushing through their lungs, they might not be following instructions correctly," Walsh said

Right now the Minnehaha County jail does not have an intoxilyzer, but Sheriff Mike Milstead said with Thursday's Supreme Court ruling, it may be something they look into down the road.