U.S. Supreme Court hears Cape County forced blood test case - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

U.S. Supreme Court hears Cape Girardeau County forced blood test case

More than two years ago, a state trooper pulled over Tyler McNeely for suspicion of drunk driving. More than two years ago, a state trooper pulled over Tyler McNeely for suspicion of drunk driving.
"His blood alcohol content turned out to be a .154 which is nearly twice the legal limit," said Cape Girardeau County Assistant Prosecutor Jack Koester. "His blood alcohol content turned out to be a .154 which is nearly twice the legal limit," said Cape Girardeau County Assistant Prosecutor Jack Koester.
CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) -

A Cape Girardeau County case now rests in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.      

On Wednesday, justices heard arguments in a case involving a blood test on an un-willing drunk driving suspect from Jackson.     

More than two years ago, a state trooper pulled over Tyler McNeely for suspicion of drunk driving.     

He refused a breath and blood test. The officer, according to court records, didn't want to wait about two hours to get a warrant so he took McNeely to the hospital for a blood test.

"His blood alcohol content turned out to be a .154 which is nearly twice the legal limit," said Cape Girardeau County Assistant Prosecutor Jack Koester in a July 2011 interview.    

Koester spent the day in Washington, D.C. where he just argued this case before the United States Supreme Court.     

It's likely a once in a lifetime experience.

"It wasn't a routine day at the office, that's for sure," said Koester.    

At issue is a 1966 Supreme Court case that involved an alcohol related arrest. The Court provided some exceptions to the warrant requirement for taking a blood sample.

The holding was limited to situations that might have led the officer in the case to believe he was faced with an emergency situation in which delaying the obtaining a warrant could be interpreted as the destruction of evidence.

Prosecutors in this case say the evidence in a drunk driving case can be lost, and getting a test as soon as possible is crucial to the investigation.

They say waiting to get a judge to sign off on a search warrant takes too long, sometimes more than two hours.

"The warrantless search (in the McNeely case) was reasonable under the 4th amendment to prevent the imminent destruction of evidence," said Koester.    

A trial court ruled in favor of the defendant in this case.    

It then went to the Missouri Supreme Court, which affirmed the trial court's decision.     

Tyler McNeely's attorney, Steve Wilson, was also in Washington, D.C. for the oral arguments where the ACLU argued on his behalf.

"This could weaken the protection of the fourth amendment," said Wilson. "It protects your home and your person. Certainly there's nothing more invasive than the state sticking a needle in your arm."   

32 states filed briefs supporting Missouri urging the Supreme Court to adopt a rule, allowing warrantless blood draws in every drunk driving investigation.    

Wilson says it's unreasonable.  

"Just to be able to take a person from the roadside to the hospital and draw their blood, it could entail holding them down and sticking a needle in their arm," said Wilson.

The local attorneys on this case say it's a pretty big deal for the Supreme Court to hear this case.     

Jack Koester said Justices get asked to review about 8,000 cases a year, and typically only hear about 75 to 80.     

Attorneys on both sides say it could be months before we learn of a decision from the Supreme Court on this mater.

Copyright 2013 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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