St. Louis Public Radio News
5:22 pm
Fri November 12, 2010

Mo. prosecutors: Warrant not needed for blood alcohol test

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri prosecutors say the state's recently-expanded DWI law likely gives police authority to take blood samples from drunken driving suspects without a warrant.

A presentation today by the Missouri Office of Prosecution Services states that warrantless blood samples are permitted under some circumstances, because the new law removes a prohibition on performing tests if a motorist refuses. The U.S. Supreme Court already has upheld the taking of a blood sample without warrant.

The opinion was given at a summit of law enforcement officers and prosecutors held in St. Louis, Jefferson City, St. Joseph, Joplin and Springfield. It also focused on ways police officers in the field can can better spot impaired drivers.

Mark Richardson is Cole County's prosecutor. He says one method they reviewed was the one parents might use on teenagers returning home from a party.

"(Our parents) would always get close enough to us to observe a smell of intoxicants, how our eyes functioned, how our mannerisms were, our walking, things of that nature," Richardson said. "This was a reminder to not forget about those easy signs of impairment or drug intoxication or alcohol intoxication."

Kyle Easley is a State Trooper with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

"We learned several aspects about being more detailed in our reports of our initial observations," Easley said. "We have observations that normal people wouldn't see in an impaired person on a day-to-day basis."

Participants also reviewed other aspects of Missouri's new DWI law, such as immediate jail time for those with a blood alcohol level of .15 or higher.

Anheuser-Busch hosted the summit from its St. Louis headquarters, and broadcast meeting content to sites in Missouri, Texas and New Mexico.