- Associated Press - Thursday, August 21, 2014

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A South Dakota law that allowed blood to be drawn from suspected drunk drivers without their permission or a warrant is unconstitutional, the state Supreme Court found in a ruling announced Thursday.

The ruling follows a decision by U.S. Supreme Court last year that states that the natural dissipation of alcohol from the blood over time isn’t generally reason enough to exempt police from having to get a judge’s approval before drawing a blood sample from a suspect.

South Dakota’s implied consent law, which went into effect in 2006, stipulated that drivers consent to drug and alcohol testing just by getting behind the wheel.

However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a Missouri case that police must try to obtain a search warrant from a judge before ordering blood tests for drunken driving suspects. South Dakota judges disagreed in a number of recent rulings on whether the Supreme Court’s decision rendered South Dakota’s law unconstitutional. In their ruling, however, the state Supreme Court justices cited the ruling in the Missouri case.

Attorney General Marty Jackley said Thursday that the state Legislature “will likely be discussing and addressing any resulting public safety concerns and fiscal effects arising from the decision” during its 2015 session.



The case that led to the South Dakota challenge involved Shauna Fierro, who was arrested last August for driving a motorcycle under the influence of alcohol. Fierro had a blood test taken at the Meade County Jail. A lower court ruled to exclude blood test results in the Fierro case at the request of her attorneys - a decision influenced by the April 2013 ruling from the nation’s high court. The state Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

The trooper that arrested and drew Fierro’s blood on Aug. 4, 2013, testified that at the time of the incident, he was aware of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision and had received new training as to its effect.

The South Dakota justices wrote that in cases such as Fierro’s in which law enforcement is aware of new case precedent and has received training as to its effect, “subsequent activity conducted in accordance with prior, contrary, precedent cannot be said to be ‘objectively reasonable.’”

“Therefore, in order to promote, meaningful deterrence of this type of law enforcement conduct, the appropriate remedy is one of suppression.”

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