Urine Search Case Study

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As above, to determine whether or not a warrantless urine test is a valid search incident-to-arrest for driving-while-intoxicated, the Thompson Court engaged in a balancing of the government interests involved against the privacy interests implicated by the search. The Court first analyzed the privacy interests involved in the case. These interests were: the level of physical intrusion required by the search, the ability of the State to retain a sample that contains personal information, and the “enhanced embarrassment a urine test is likely to cause during an arrest.” The Minnesota Supreme Court agreed with the State on the level of physical intrusiveness of the search, i.e. that a urine test is more like a breath test than a blood test in that regard. However, the Court failed to give appropriate weight to this…show more content…
In Birchfield the Court held: “[b]ecause breath tests are significantly less intrusive than blood tests and in most cases amply serve law enforcement interests, we conclude that a breath test, but not a blood test, may be administered as a search incident to a lawful arrest for drunk driving.” The Court did not place any weight on the possibility that the State could use a retained sample for nefarious ends, or that obtaining the sample could be an uncomfortable experience for the arrestee. While the Court did mention that a blood test “places in the hands of law enforcement authorities a sample that can be preserved and from which it is possible to extract information beyond a simple BAC reading,” this as well as the following sentence is the only mention of the potential misuse of any retained sample in the Birchfield decision. When the case is considered in its entirety it is clear that the mention of a retained sample was not essential to its holding, and the Minnesota Supreme Court erred in giving the great weight that it
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