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Supreme Court Rules on Warrant-less Breathalyzer Tests and Blood Tests

If you are pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Dallas, can the police require you to take a breathalyzer test? How about a blood test?

According to a recent report from CNN Politics, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that, “while law enforcement may require a breathalyzer for suspected drunk drivers without a warrant after an arrest, a warrant is required for a blood test in the same circumstances.”

In other words, the Supreme Court determined that a warrant-less breathalyzer test is permissible. This means that anyone pulled over due to suspicion of drinking and driving can be required to take breathalyzer tests in Dallas. However, the police must obtain a warrant for a blood test.

The ruling came in a 5-3 decision from the Supreme Court in a set of consolidated cases known as Birchfield v. North Dakota. There were three different arrests for drunk driving in three separate states, all of which involved a defendant’s prosecution or a defendant being threatened with prosecution for refusing to take a breathalyzer test or a blood test without a warrant. The Court had to decide whether there was a difference between breathalyzer and blood tests for the purposes of requiring a warrant, and then whether a warrant is required in either circumstance.

Supreme Court: Breath Tests Are Less Intrusive Than Blood Tests

The Court concluded that a breathalyzer test is significantly different from a blood test, in that a blood test is particularly invasive. Given the distinction between the two tests in terms of their invasiveness for a suspected drunk driver, as well as the value of these tests to law enforcement officers, the court decided that the Fourth Amendment does not require police officers to obtain a warrant to conduct a breathalyzer test.

Blood tests, however, are different. The Court reasoned that blood tests are more invasive, and they do require a warrant.

As Justice Samuel Alito explained in writing the majority opinion, “Because breath tests are significantly less intrusive than blood tests and in most cases amply serve law enforcement interests, we conclude that a breath test, but not a blood test, may be administered as a search incident to lawful arrest for drunk driving.”

Your Rights If You Are Pulled Over and Refuse a Breath or Blood Test

What should you do if you are pulled over under the suspicion of a DUI or DWI in Dallas? What should you do if the law enforcement officer makes you submit to breathalyzer tests? Given the recent Supreme Court decision, a police officer can require you to submit to a breath test without a warrant – but not a blood test.

If you refuse a breathalyzer test, you can be subject to penalties under Texas law depending on whether this is a first or subsequent offense. Potential penalties include suspension of driving privileges for anywhere from 180 days to 2 years.

Breathalyzer test laws in Texas allow you to request a hearing in the event that you refuse a breath test or if you fail one. If you have been charged with a DWI or caused serious injury to another person, an experienced Dallas DWI lawyer can help you protect your rights. You should remember that, even if you are suspected of drunk driving, you still have rights.

Contact an Experienced DUI/DWI Attorney in Dallas

If you have been charged with a DUI or a DWI in Texas, it is extremely important to have an experienced Dallas DUI/DWI lawyer on your side. Contact Kraft & Associates, Attorneys at Law, P.C. today to discuss your options.


I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law, Social Security Disability, Elder Law, Medicaid Planning for Long Term Care, and VA Benefits.

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