The U.S. Supreme Court said Friday it will review state laws that make it a crime to refuse to take a blood alcohol test if the officer does not have a warrant and will review a challenge to the federal government’s ability to define wetlands.
The court took cases from North Dakota and Minnesota to consider whether laws that criminalize the refusal to take a test are constitutional. Those are among 13 — including Virginia — in the country with such a requirement.
The challengers say such laws violate the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and do not fit within the Supreme Court’s requirements about what police may do without a warrant.
Allowing the laws to stand would give “greater constitutional protection to an arrestee’s pockets or handbag than to the arrestee’s body,” according to the brief filed in the Minnesota case.
The lead appeal came from Danny Birchfield, who drove his car off the road in Morton County, N.D., in 2013. Birchfield failed a breath test performed by an officer and then refused to submit to a blood test. He pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge while reserving his right to appeal.
The North Dakota Supreme Court said the test requirement was a reasonable measure for states trying to discourage drunken driving.
In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that in most cases police should get a warrant before forcing suspected drunk drivers to submit to blood tests.
In the wetlands case, the court will decide whether property owners can go to court to challenge agency decisions about when they need permits under the Clean Water Act.
The Obama administration asked the justices to review a lower court’s ruling that Hawkes Co. can sue to open a peat mine in Minnesota.
The lead drunk driving case is Birchfield v. North Dakota, and the wetlands case is Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co.