Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy


Birchfield v. North Dakota, Implied consent, Warrantless searches, 4th Amendment, DUI, Drunk driving


Birchfield v. North Dakota is a landmark decision that will influence criminal procedure jurisprudence for years to come. Birchfield drew a distinction between the level of intrusiveness inherent in a breath test versus a blood test, upholding warrantless searches incident to a DUI arrest involving the former, but not the latter. In addition, the Court ruled that criminal penalties for refusing to consent to a blood draw were unconstitutional, but such penalties were an acceptable punishment for motorists who refused to undergo a breath test. Because Birchfield failed to establish a clear rule regarding the permissible scope of implied consent laws, the Court will plausibly revisit them in the future.