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U.S. Supreme Court issues divided ruling on OWI in Wisconsin

The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling in a 5-4 vote that pertains to Wisconsin drivers. More specifically, the ruling has to do with people who are unconscious whom police suspected of OWI, moments before the individuals became unconscious. Four justices expressed strong dissenting opinions on the matter.

The issue at hand is whether it violates a person's civil rights under the Fourth Amendment to draw blood without a warrant for the purpose of obtaining a BAC level on an unconscious person. The high court ruled that doing so does not violate the U.S. Constitution if police had probable cause to believe the unconscious person was driving while intoxicated before he or she fell unconscious. The justices who dissented believe it does violate a person's rights.

Justice Sotomayor, one of the dissenters, said the high court's precedents have already interpreted the Fourth Amendment to require a valid search warrant to draw blood to determine BAC if a person is suspected of drunk driving. The other dissenting justices agreed that the precedent has already been set and should be upheld. However, the majority ruling held that police may indeed order a blood draw without a warrant if an unconscious person is suspected of drunk driving.

This OWI ruling may affect many Wisconsin drivers, especially if an accident occurs and an unconscious driver is whisked off to a hospital. Anyone who has been charged with OWI can seek legal guidance and support. An experienced criminal defense attorney knows what steps to take to request a case dismissal, challenge evidence or otherwise seek the best possible result for the client.

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