On August 20, 2014, the South Dakota Supreme Court issued its decision in State v. Fierro, holding that a warrantless search conducted under South Dakota’s implied consent statute, SDCL 32-23-10, was unconstitutional.
Shauna Fierro (Fierro) was stopped by law enforcement in Butte County, South Dakota after she committed a traffic violation. Law enforcement later administered a number of standard sobriety tests and concluded that Fierro did not pass some of them, at which point she was placed under arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI).
Upon making the arrest, law enforcement informed Fierro that she was required by state law to give a sample of her blood. During processing, Fierro informed the officers that she wanted to refuse the blood test and consult with an attorney. Ms. Fierro never verbally consented to the blood draw and physically attempted to refuse the draw. Despite this lack of consent and physical refusal, law enforcement compelled her to give a blood sample without first obtaining a warrant.
The South Dakota Supreme Court found that Fierro’s blood draw without consent was unconstitutional because it did not fit within an exception to a warrantless search. First, the Court noted that the "exigent circumstances exception" to the warrant requirement did not apply to Fierro’s case. Second, the Court held that the "consent exception" to the warrant requirement did not apply because, based on the totality of the circumstances, Fierro did not voluntarily give consent for the blood draw. Third, the “special needs exception" did not apply because the purpose of the blood was to generate evidence for Fierro's prosecution. In addition, the Court determined that South Dakota’s implied consent statute, SDCL 32-23-10, by itself, does not preempt a person’s constitutional right against unreasonable searches.
Ultimately, the South Dakota Supreme Court upheld the magistrate court’s decision to suppress the evidence generated from Fierro’s blood draw. This decision means that (under most circumstances) law enforcement can no longer draw blood without first obtaining a warrant.