In a landmark decision handed down by the Nevada Supreme Court on Thursday, the justices ruled that Nevada’s implied consent laws are unconstitutional. The court unanimously agreed that the law, which allows officers to forcibly take blood samples from drivers who they suspect to be impaired, is in violation of the fourth amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
This ruling was modeled after the U.S. Supreme Court decision for Missouri vs. McNeely in 2013. Supreme court justices ruled that a warrant should generally be obtained before an officer may order a blood test without the driver’s consent.
Now, Nevada will be held to that same standard, as a warrant will have to be obtained prior to collecting a blood sample. The ruling should not slow down legal proceedings, however, as officers can obtain a warrant via telephone in approximately 15 minutes.
Previous implied consent law
Prior to the striking down of the implied consent law, motorists did not have the right to refuse a breath, blood, or urine test. If an officer had reason to believe that a driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of an arrest, they were permitted to use “reasonable force” to make the motorist take a BAC test.
If a driver was in “actual physical control” of a vehicle at the time of an arrest, even if they were not driving, the officer had the right to order a test to determine blood alcohol concentration. It was implied that a driver had given the officer consent to test their BAC upon entering the motor vehicle, even if the officer had yet to place the motorist under arrest. If a driver refused, the officer would be permitted to seize the motorist’s license, arrest them, and then order a blood, urine, or breath test to take place at a hospital or police station.
How the change affects Nevadans
Nevada lawmakers are seeking to find a balance between the state’s interests, and Nevadan’s rights to protection from unlawful search and seizure. This ruling ensures that individuals will maintain their right to refuse tests for BAC when pulled over by police officers, without facing negative legal repercussions.
If you have been arrested for a DUI and are looking for a criminal defense lawyer in Las Vegas, contact the firm of Gabriel L. Grasso at (702) 868–8866 to see how we can help you.