It’s time the laws are done away with.
No one wants drunken drivers on the road or left unpunished. But there is no evidence that doing away with implied-consent laws will lead to anyone who drives drunk from going uncharged.
Under implied consent, suspected drunken drivers can be charged with felonies for refusing to take a breath or blood test. The charge is actually often treated more seriously than if the person is convicted of drunken driving.
When the justices heard arguments last week in cases involving Minnesota and North Dakota, they made clear they see the implied-consent laws as being at fundamental odds with protections against unreasonable search and seizure.
Justices Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor noted the “drastic” and “extraordinary” demands that were being made by states that have implied-consent laws.
Attorneys for the states argued that getting a warrant in a timely manner was a difficult task.
The attorneys for the states didn’t help themselves in their argument. One argued it was difficult in places like rural North Dakota to quickly get search warrants while the other attorney later argued that it was too hard to get one in busy urban areas.
But most of the justices, weren’t buying the argument — noting that with today’s technology, getting a judge to relatively quickly approve a search warrant electronically was not an undue burden on the government. Sotomayor said it wasn’t the Supreme Court’s job to waive constitutional protections simply to make it easier for states to prosecute suspected drunk drivers.
“It’s as if you want to create an exception to the Fourth Amendment … in a drastic way,” Sotomayor said.
The constitutional right to not face unreasonable searches from law enforcement and the government is too important to trifle with simply to make things easier for the state. The implied-consent laws severely punish people for using their constitutional rights not to be searched without a warrant. It’s a law that shouldn’t stand.