Schmerber v. California

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Schmerber v. California
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued April 25, 1966
Decided June 20, 1966
Full case name Armando Schmerber, Petitioner v. State of California
Citations 384 U.S. 757 (more)
86 S.Ct. 1826; 16 L.Ed.2d 908; 1966 U.S. LEXIS 1129
Prior history Certiorari to the Appellate Department of the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles
(1) Blood tests do not implicate the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination; thus, the Sixth Amendment does not require an opportunity to consult with counsel first
(2) Warrantless blood tests to determine blood alcohol content of drunk driving suspects are justified under the exigent circumstances doctrine of the Fourth Amendment
Court membership
Case opinions
Plurality Brennan, joined by Clark, White
Concurrence Harlan, joined by Stewart
Dissent Warren
Dissent Black, joined by Douglas
Dissent Douglas
Dissent Fortas

Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757 (1966), was a decision by the United States Supreme Court, which held that a State may, over the suspect's protest, have a physician extract blood from a person suspected of drunken driving without violating the suspect's rights under the Fourth or Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.


Armando Schmerber was hospitalized following an accident involving an automobile which he had apparently been driving. A police officer smelled liquor on his breath and noticed other symptoms of drunkenness at the accident scene and at the hospital, placed Schmerber under arrest, and informed him of his Miranda rights.

At the officer's direction a physician took a blood sample. Schmerber objected despite the advice of his counsel to consent thereto. A report of the chemical analysis of the blood, which indicated intoxication, was admitted in evidence over objection at Schmerber's trial for driving while intoxicated. He was convicted and the conviction was affirmed by the appellate court which rejected his claims of denial of due process, of his privilege against self-incrimination, of his right to counsel, and of his right not to be subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures.

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Green, S. (1967). "Forcible Administration of Blood Tests: Schmerber v. California". UCLA Law Review 14: 680. ISSN 0041-5650. 
  • Willmore, Wendell J. (1967). "The Implications of Schmerber v. California". Air Force Law Review 9: 26. ISSN 0094-8381. 

External links[edit]

Text of Schmerber v. California is available from:  Findlaw  Justia  Food and Drug Administration