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Warrants now required for OVI blood tests

In Ohio, it is illegal for people to refuse breath or urine testing when they have been arrested for operating vehicles while under the influence if they have prior OVI convictions within the last 20 years. Previously, it was also illegal for them to refuse blood tests, but that law has been invalidated by a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

In the Birchfield case, the Supreme Court ruled that blood tests may not be performed without first getting search warrants. It also ruled that search warrants are not required for breath tests. The court found that there is a difference between breath and blood testing because blood tests involve a greater invasion of privacy because of using needles to penetrate the skin while the intrusion is minimal for breath testing.

The decision invalidates the law making it illegal to refuse blood tests in the state following arrests for OVI when no search warrants are obtained. It is possible that the legislature could react by removing the provision of the law requiring an OVI arrest in the last 20 years to make it illegal to refuse breath testing and instead make it illegal for all drivers. The Supreme Court did not address urine testing, so it may be the subject of future challenges.

People who are arrested for drunk driving will be asked to submit to breath or urine tests. If they refuse, they may lose their driving privileges. Criminal defense attorneys may help their clients with fighting their drunk driving charges. If they refused testing, they may also help their clients defend against the separate criminal charges for doing so.

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