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Birchfield Beylund and Bernard Arguments at the SCOTUS

Monday, April 25, 2016

DUI Breath TestBirchfield v. North Dakota; Beylund v. North Dakota; and, Bernard v. Minnesota oral arguments were held at the United States Supreme Court on Wednesday, April 20th, 2016.  The primary issue in these three cases is whether it violates the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution to criminalize the exercise what amounts to a 4th Amendment right by refusing to submit to a State Administered test of ones blood, breath or urine in a Alcohol or Drug DUI case. As the argument developed it became clear that the Supreme Court Justices were more interested in facts than the applicable law. The facts as demonstrated by the Amicus brief from the National College of DUI Defense and the National Association Criminal Defense lawyers are threefold. 

First, Warrants are more effective at obtaining blood, breath and urine test results than criminalizing refusing a breath test. In fact there is evidence in many states that criminalizing refuses had the effect of increasing refusal rates.  

Second, Because of the widespread availability of electronic (email and video conference warrants) and telephonic warrants criminalizing DUI refusals is unnecessary. 

Third, the threat of criminal incarceration for refusing a DUI blood, breath or urine test is coercion and violates both the spirit and letter of the 4th Amendment. 

The bottom line is the that the exercise of a Constitutional right should never be a crime. A decision is expected in the fall.  SCOTUSblog did a pretty thorough review of the arguments as well

-Author: George C. Creal, Jr.



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    is a trial lawyer with 18 years of courtroom experience. He is one of only 6 Atlanta DUI lawyers with both an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale.com and a 10.0/10.0 Superb rating on Avvo.com. He has over 100 "not guilty" verdicts under his belt and has forged indispensable relationships with police, judges and prosecutors all over the State of Georgia in order to benefit his clients' defense.
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