Blood Sample Taken From DWI Defendant Will Not Be Suppressed If Legally Withdrawn
- March 7, 2014
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Blood taken without a warrant in a Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and death by auto case need not be suppressed depending on the law at the time of the accident. The defendant was involved in a single car accident in 2010 in which 2 passengers were injured when the vehicle he was driving hit a utility pole. The police detected the odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from the defendant, Adkins, and administered field sobriety tests which he failed. Defendant was arrested and transported to the police station where he was read his Miranda rights and opted to remain silent until he had the benefit of counsel. Later that night, Defendant was transported to the hospital by police. Because alcohol remains in the body for a limited time, at the request of police and upon the signature of the defendant, police and the nurse to perform the procedure, blood was withdrawn from the defendant with his consent. At trial, in State v. Adkins, the defendant sought to suppress the blood as it was obtained without a warrant and the suppression was granted. The State appealed the matter and the NJ Appellate division considered a series of cases relating to warrantless searches and exceptions to the warrant requirement. The NJ Appellate Court was considering the issue of whether they should apply the ruling in Davis v. United States, 564 US ___ (2011), or State v. Novembrino, 105 N.J. 95 (1987), in light of federal retroactivity requirements. Under Davis the US Supreme Court held that the exclusionary rule, which protects the public from warrantless seizures, would not operate in a defendant’s favor where the police were acting in good-faith reliance on existing law. Under Novembrino the NJ Supreme Court held that a good-faith exception served to deprive defendants of their rights and would not be upheld. The NJ Appellate Division made its determination with its focus toward the purpose of the exclusionary rule in protecting defendants from illegal police intrusion. In 2010, at the time the blood was drawn from the defendant, the police conduct was lawful and with consent of the defendant. They were not acting pursuant to a defective warrant and their conduct was not unreasonable or improper. The suppression of the blood samples in this case would not further the interests of justice or rectify improper behavior by police. Although Adkins’ personal interests may be served by suppression, the suppression of the blood sample which was taken legally at the time of the accident would severely disrupt the criminal justice system when the multitude of defendants already sentenced sought to reopen their cases with retroactive application of the law. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in New Jersey bears serious consequences including loss of driving privileges from 7 months for a first event to 10 years for a third or subsequent event, heavy fines and even jail. If you are facing DUI charges, it is critical you obtain experienced defense counsel to represent you against those charges. For more information about DUI, controlled dangerous substances (CDS) in a motor vehicle, reckless driving, driving without insurance or other serious municipal court charges in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlinglawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.