In a recent published Minnesota Appellate Court Decision, Harrison v. Commissioner of Public Safety, the Court ruled that the government is not required to gather a search warrant prior to testing a driver’s blood sample, which he consented to at an earlier date subsequent to his DWI arrest.
In Harrison, the driver consented to a withdraw of his blood for alcohol testing after his arrest for DWI. The sample was later analyzed by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) Lab to determine Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) and it was later found that his Blood Alcohol Concentration was above the legal limit of .08 and his driver’s license was subsequently revoked as a result.
At Harrison’s driver’s license revocation hearing, his attorney agreed that the initial blood test was legally obtained (i.e. consent); however, he argued tht the subsequent testing of the actual blood test sample by the BCA was illegal and in violation of the driver’s constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures, because the government did not have a warrant to analyze the blood test.
Furthermore, the driver argued that whatever exigency exited allowing for the initial warrantless blood draw ceased to exist once the blood was actually withdrawn and set aside for testing. Therfore, there is no exigency exception to the warrant requirement once the blood is withdrawn and the court should hold that the blood test is inadmissable.
The Court rejected this argument. First, the Court reasoned that once it is determined that the actual withdrawal of the blood is legal, a seperate constitutional analysis is not required for the actual testing of the blood sample. However, even so, that there is no warrant requirement because the indivual driver has no legitimate expectation of privacy for a blood sample already withdrawn and sitting in a lab to be tested. In other words, once the blood sample is withdrawn legally, the driver loses any expectation of privacy in the alcohol concentration derived from the sample.