Case: Mitchell v. Wisconsin (2019).
Facts: The parties are represented by Gerald Mitchell and the state of Wisconsin. The case features a case of driving under the influence of alcohol. However, as Mitchell was stopped by a police officer, he could not undergo the blood test due to his lethargic state. After having been subjected to a blood test at the police station, now conscious, Mitchell accused the police officer of rights violation by citing the 4th Amendment rights. The court decision refused Mitchell’s plight, establishing that the blood test was administered reasonably.
Issue: The basic legal question that the case in question seeks to answer is whether a police officer has the right to force a person driving under the influence to undergo a blood test without a warrant.
Holding: The court’s holding was unanimously in favor of supporting blood tests being administered to drivers without a warrant. The vote count was distributed in the following way: 5-4-3, i.e., five jury members supported the decision, four rejected it, and three remained undecided.
Majority Opinion Reasoning
The court ruling stated that when a driver is unconscious and, therefore, is unable to undergo the traditional test using the breathing technique, the blood test as the means of detecting the extent of the driver’s sobriety can and should be allowed based on the principles of the exigent-circumstances doctrine (Mitchell v. Wisconsin, 588 U.S. (2019)). Therefore, the court ruling can be summarized as the permission for police officers to administer blood tests to drivers without permission if a driver is unconscious (Mitchell v. Wisconsin, 588 U.S. (2019)).
In turn, the application of the court’s decision is established as aligned with the exigent circumstances doctrine and, therefore, is allowed when a driver is unconscious or otherwise irresponsive. The main reasoning behind the court’s decision is quite apparent since people driving under the influence represent a serious threat not only to others but also to themselves and their own well-being. Thu, administering a blood test to a driver that appears to be under the influence of alcohol for an officer without a warrant is seen as a rational decision that supports the safeguarding of citizens, in general.
In the case under analysis, several legal standards have been referred to as the reasoning behind the parties’ argumentation. Specifically, the defendant cited his Fourth Amendment rights as the basis for not being provided a blood test in an unconscious state. Additionally, the Wis. Stat. 343.305(4) was cited as the basis for retracting the agreement to be administered a blood test in an unconscious state. In turn, the prosecution applied Section 343.305(3)(b), according to which reasonable interventions are possible in the scenario of a suspect being irresponsive (Mitchell v. Wisconsin, 588 U.S. (2019)). Namely, the legal standard in question specifies that appropriate actions must be taken to ensure the safety and well-being of all those involved (Mitchell v. Wisconsin, 588 U.S. (2019)).
The described rule of law applies specifically by allowing police officers to administer blood tests to drivers that they believe in having been affected by substances without obtaining the drivers’ permission to have the test in question be performed on them. The specified decision suggests that the state wins in the case under analysis since law enforcement officers are provided with the right to apply blood tests to any drivers that they suspect in driving their vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other substances.
Concurring Opinion(s) Reasoning
The main reasoning behind all of the three concurrences observed in the case of Mitchell v. Wisconsin is linked directly to the possibility of evidence destruction and the outcomes of the specified occurrence. Namely, Justice Thomas assumed that once a law enforcement officer has enough reasons to believe that a driver is under the influence, the destruction of evidence is nearly imminent. The remaining participants holding a concurring opinion voiced similar reasons (Mitchell v. Wisconsin, 588 U.S. (2019)). The specified conclusions differ in the application of the rule in the collection of evidence that a specific case of driving under the influence could supply.
Dissenting Opinion(s) Reasoning
In turn, the dissenting opinions were also substantially similar to one another. Particularly, Justice Sotomayor and Justice Alito believed that the case under analysis had to be examined through the lens of a precedent. According to the specified members of the jury, warrantless blood tests would imply a breach of people’s rights granted to them by the Fourth Amendment, particularly the right to autonomy and bodily integrity. Specifically, the jury asserted that once the proposed standard is established in the law as the foundation for warrantless blood tests, the rights of citizens may be significantly infringed upon. Moreover, the justices expressed a concern that the specified court decision would cancel warrant application, in general. Namely, the following sentiment was voiced: “[I]f the police have time to secure a warrant before the blood draws, ‘the Fourth Amendment mandates that they do so” (Mitchell v. Wisconsin, 588 U.S. (2019)). Applied to practice, the described regulation would suggest that police officers could not administer blood tests to drivers they suspect to be under the influence, which would put drivers and other citizens in peril.
Mitchell v. Wisconsin, 588 U.S. (2019)