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New Law Passed by the Supreme Court Making it Illegal to Refuse a Breathalyzer Test

With the Fourth of July weekend come and gone and summer festivities underway, a new law passed by the Supreme Court in late June will try and combat the nationwide drunk driving epidemic.

According to CNN, state officers can now require a warrant-less breathalyzer test on a suspected drunk driver. The Supreme Court, however, ruled that blood tests are too invasive and officers will require a warrant to perform any blood testing.

“Because breath tests are significantly less intrusive than blood tests and in most cases amply serve law enforcement interests, we conclude that a breath test, but not a blood test, may be administered as search incident to a lawful arrest for drunk driving,” said Justice Samuel Alito. “As in all cases involving reasonable searches incident to arrest, a warrant is not needed in this situation.”

According to Tech Times, in all 50 states if a driver was pulled over as a suspected drunk driver and they refuse a breathalyzer test, their license can be immediately revoked. The ruling came in late June and so far 11 states have fully enacted the law.

In 2014, of all the car accident deaths, wholly 31% of them were caused by alcohol-related incidents. The Supreme Court hopes this new law will help combat nationwide drunk driving.

The decision was made in a five-to-three ruling. The two justices who dissented were Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who both argued that warrants should be required in all cases. Justice Clarence Thomas argued that warrants should never be required regarding alcohol testing for impaired drivers.

“This court has never said that mere convenience in fathering evidence justifies an exception to the warrant requirement,” said Sotomayor. “I fear that if the court continues down this road, the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement will become nothing more than a suggestion.”

The Supreme Court’s decision came one day prior to a Rochester women being arrested after driving drunk with three children in the vehicle. According to WHEC, Jennifer Race, 29, of Canandaigua, was arrested for aggravated DWI for driving drunk on I-490 with three children in the vehicle. All the children were younger than 10 years old.

Race will appear in city court later this month.