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U.S. Supreme Court
SCHMERBER v. CALIFORNIA, 384 U.S. 757 (1966)

No. 658.
Argued April 25, 1966
Decided June 20, 1966

MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner was convicted in Los Angeles Municipal Court of the criminal offense of driving an automobile while under the influence of intoxicating liquor.[fn1] He had been arrested at a hospital while receiving treatment for injuries suffered in an accident involving the automobile that he had apparently been driving.[fn2] At the direction of a police officer, a blood sample was then withdrawn from petitioner's body by a physician at the hospital. Page 759 The chemical analysis of this sample revealed a percent by weight of alcohol in his blood at the time of the offense which indicated intoxication, and the report of this analysis was admitted in evidence at the trial. Petitioner objected to receipt of this evidence of the analysis on the ground that the blood had been withdrawn despite his refusal, on the advice of his counsel, to consent to the test. He contended that in that circumstance the withdrawal of the blood and the admission of the analysis in evidence denied him due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as specific guarantees of the Bill of Rights secured against the States by that Amendment: his privilege against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment; his right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment; and his right not to be subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Appellate Department of the California Superior Court rejected these contentions and affirmed the conviction.[fn3] In view of constitutional decisions since we last considered these issues in Breithaupt v. Abram, 352 U.S. 432 — see Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478; Malloy v. Hogan, 378 U.S. 1, and Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 — we granted certiorari. 382 U.S. 971. We affirm.

    Breithaupt was also a case in which police officers caused blood to be withdrawn from the driver of an automobile involved in an accident, and in which there was ample justification for the officer's conclusion that the driver was under the influence of alcohol. There, as here, the extraction was made by a physician in a simple, medically acceptable manner in a hospital environment. Page 760 There, however, the driver was unconscious at the time the blood was withdrawn and hence had no opportunity to object to the procedure. We affirmed the conviction there resulting from the use of the test in evidence, holding that under such circumstances the withdrawal did not offend "that `sense of justice' of which we spoke in Rochin v. California, 342 U.S. 165." 352 U.S., at 435. Breithaupt thus requires the rejection of petitioner's due process argument, and nothing in the circumstances of this case[fn4] or in supervening events persuades us that this aspect of Breithaupt should be overruled.