In a recent Appellate Court ruling, State of North Carolina v. Joseph M. Romano No.
COA15-940 (2016), the Court gives a clear indication that it is not going to allow law
enforcement to cut corners in DWI cases where the defendant’s blood has been taken without a warrant or without consent. Applying federal law, the Court refused to apply a warrant exception for the blood sample drawn and seized by law enforcement in this case.
Blood draw searches in DWI cases are a physical intrusion into a person’s body. The
metabolization of alcohol in the bloodstream does not present an exigent circumstance justifying an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement for non-consensual seizure of a blood sample in DWI cases Missouri v. McNeely, 133 S.Ct. 1552 (2013).
This change in the law will require law enforcement officers to either get a warrant to direct the seizure of a blood sample or get the defendant to give informed consent in writing before taking a person’s blood in a DWI case.