Some of Florida’s DUI laws may be unconstitutional

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling is throwing doubt on the constitutionality of some Florida DUI laws.

A recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court concerning Minnesota’s DUI laws could have a significant impact on the constitutionality of Florida’s DUI laws, according to News4Jax. The Supreme Court was ruling on the constitutionality of warrantless breath and blood tests for alcohol content. While the Supreme Court ruled that warrantless breath tests are constitutional, it also ruled that police need to obtain a warrant if they want to withdraw a blood sample from a suspect. The ruling throws the constitutionality of some of Florida’s DUI laws into doubt.

Warrantless searches

The Supreme Court was tasked with deciding whether a person could be charged with a criminal offense if they refuse to provide a blood or breath test to measure alcohol in their systems. The law criminalizing such refusal was challenged as being unconstitutional because it did not require police to obtain a search warrant in order to withdraw the blood and breath samples.

The court’s ruling was somewhat mixed on the issue. While the court did find that warrantless breath tests were constitutional, the same could not be said for blood withdrawals. The top court determined that because blood withdrawals are far more invasive than breath tests and because they leave the government in possession of a person’s biological sample, that such tests should require a search warrant. As such, criminalizing the refusal of a blood withdrawal was determined to be unconstitutional.

Impact on Florida

The ruling has a significant impact on Florida’s DUI laws in a number of ways. For one, Florida’s criminalization of refusing a breath test had already been challenged on constitutional grounds. That challenge was supposed to be heard by the Florida Supreme Court later this year, although whether that case will actually go ahead now is unclear.

However, as FOX 13 News points out, Florida’s DUI laws also criminalize the refusal to provide a blood or urine sample for alcohol testing. While the U.S. Supreme Court did not rule on urine tests, it was clear that blood tests do require a warrant, suggesting some of Florida’s DUI laws are unconstitutional. Complicating the matter even further is that many of Florida’s DUI laws are misdemeanors and police, under Florida law, are already prohibited from obtaining search warrants for misdemeanor charges. In other words, the Supreme Court ruling suggests that lawmakers in Florida are going to have to consider seriously revising the state’s DUI laws.

Criminal defense

As the above article shows, DUI laws in Florida are constantly evolving. For anyone who has been charged with DUI, it is important to get legal help right away. A criminal defense attorney can help those who are facing drunk driving-related charges with their case, including how to respond to the charges and how best to protect their rights and freedoms moving forward.