By Doug Hollowell:
This Friday, September 5th, the Oxford Police Department will be conducting 12-hour, no-refusal DUI checkpoints.
In Mississippi, all drivers are considered to have given “implied consent” to provide a blood or breath sample if an officer is lawfully requesting it. Generally, Mississippi officers will offer an individual suspected of DUI the ability to refuse to submit to these chemical tests. If the tests are refused, an officer must obtain a search warrant to obtain a sample. At a “no refusal” checkpoint, this process is streamlined.
If an arrestee refuses to submit to a chemical test, a judge will be on call to approve or deny a warrant which would allow an officer to obtain a sample- even over the objection or refusal of the motorist. Licensed nurses will then draw the blood of an arrestee to determine blood alcohol content. The entire process is usually videotaped to provide evidence for a later court date, if necessary.
The fourth amendment of the U.S. constitution prohibits unreasonable search and seizure (unless law enforcement authorities have probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed). The U.S. Supreme Court, however, found DUI checkpoints met the Fourth Amendment standard of “reasonable search and seizure.” The Supreme Court cited a “substantial government interest” to reduce drunk driving, and believed the DUI checkpoints were rationally related to achieving that goal.
In 2013 the Supreme Court ruled, “…in drunk driving investigations, the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream does not constitute an exigency in every case sufficient to justify conducting a blood test without a warrant.” The exigency in this case, noted the Court, must be determined on an individual basis dependent on the totality of the circumstances.
These Supreme Court rulings set forth the minimum privacy rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution. The State of Mississippi, and the “no refusal” DUI checkpoints, must comply with the these decisions.
W. Doug Hollowell, III