Judges use technology to issue OWI search warrants

KENOSHA COUNTY (WITI) -- A recent Supreme Court ruling requires officers to obtain a search warrant in order to do a blood draw after an OWI arrest. Authorities in Kenosha County have found a creative and efficient way to get those warrants.

The rule had uncooperative individuals, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, showing up at the front door of judges' homes across Wisconsin.

"It's not so difficult in getting it, it's difficult in getting the call," said Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder. "There were instances after this ruling where the officer would drive with the offender to the judge's house to get the search warrant."

Judges in Kenosha County are now issuing the warrants faster, and more conveniently, thanks to technology.

The judge receives paperwork over a cell phone, takes out a simplified search warrant already in possession, reviews the case, takes a photo and sends it back to the officer.

"You are talking a matter of minutes, in most situations is fairly quickly," said Captain Ronald Bartholomew.

The Kenosha County Police Department says the new system allows officers to make zero changes in their OWI enforcement.

"Enforcement, nothing has changed. The process that we have to go through has changed," added Bartholomew.

The process also breaks down limitations for where judges need to be when they issue the warrant. Judge Schroeder says one of his colleagues was at a Brewers game when his agency needed a signed warrant.

"I think he is probably the first one in baseball history to sign a search warrant in a baseball stadium during a game," said Schroeder.

Judges say even though paperwork has been cut down, they use the same scrutiny before signing a search warrant.