New Jersey police stop motorists and accuse them of driving under the influence all the time. Police are trained to look for signs that a driver might be impaired then pull them the person over. However, a police officer’s hunch is not enough to bring charges against an individual. Instead, in order to be convicted of DUI there must be concrete evidence that a person’s blood alcohol content level was above the legal limit of .08 percent.
Police rely on a variety of BAC level tests to determine if a person is driving above the legal limit. While a blood test can be accurate, a breath test or field sobriety test can have accuracy issues. Therefore, police often want to get a blood test to determine a person’s exact BAC level following a traffic stop or accident.
In 2013, however, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police need to have a warrant in order to force someone into taking a blood test, unless there was an emergency situation. The Court also clarified that the diminishing quality of a BAC level does not qualify as an emergency. Since it takes time to get a warrant, police worry, that the blood test will no longer be accurate.
While everyone agrees that the Court’s ruling must be applied going forward, New Jersey has struggled with how to deal with cases that were on going when the ruling was issued. Recently, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the rule had to apply to cases that were undecided when the ruling was issued. In other words, the ruling must be applied retroactively.
This may give some New Jersey residents the ability to suppress blood tests that were used in their cases.
The Supreme Court’s ruling is just one many reasons why DUI cases are complicated. People facing DUI charges should make sure they understand these rules and others that might apply to their case. With the right help, evidence collected by the police might be kept out of court.