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DWI and Warrants in New Jersey

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits illegal search and seizure from law enforcement. Basically, this means that police officers must have a warrant to search your private property.

However, there are some circumstances where police do not need a warrant at all. These so called “exigent circumstances” once included DWI investigations in New Jersey. However, the laws in our state are changing.

State v. Ravotto

In 2001, the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered in the case of State v. Ravotto that police could take blood from a suspected drunk driver using “reasonable force.” Under the law, reasonable force varies, depending on the circumstances of the stop including:

  • The severity of the crime
  • If the suspect is threatening the officer’s safety or the safety of others
  • If the suspect is attempting to evade or resist arrest

Warrants Now Required

In 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled in the case of Missouri v. McNeely that forced blood draws are a violation of the Fourth Amendment. In 2015, a ruling in a New Jersey appellate court in the case of State v. Majao began the process of revising New Jersey’s stance on warrantless blood draws.

While New Jersey’s laws regarding warrants and blood draws are still being finalized, it is absolutely possible to mount a successful defense against a forced blood draw in a DWI case. Both the draw and the results can be challenged.