Supreme Court: Warrant needed for blood of unconscious man

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court says police have to get a search warrant if they want to draw blood from an unconscious person suspected of driving drunk.

Wednesday’s decision stems from the 2012 arrest of a Philadelphia man police say appeared drunk before they found an open bottle of brandy in his vehicle.

The case became more complicated when doctors gave the man medicine that rendered him unconscious before police could ask him to consent to have his blood drawn for a possible drunken driving charge. An officer got a nurse to draw the blood anyway, but lower courts have thrown out the evidence and the Supreme Court agreed.

The court says all motorists give “implied consent” to have their blood drawn, but they can still refuse – subject to other penalties – so a warrant is necessary when they can’t consent.

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