Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling stating that authorities must obtain a search warrant before taking blood samples from drunk driving suspects except in emergency situations. On May 4, the New Jersey Supreme Court said that decision applies retroactively to all cases that had not yet been decided when the U.S. high court's ruling came down in 2013.
For years, police in many states were allowed to obtain blood samples in suspected drunk driving cases without a warrant due to the quickly "dissipating nature" of alcohol content in an individual's blood, which was deemed an "emergency" circumstance. However, the U.S. Supreme Court upended that thinking in April 2013 when it ruled that the natural metabolism of blood alcohol does not supersede an individual's civil rights.
The high court's decision was cited by a New Jersey man who was charged with drunk driving after hitting a pole with his truck in 2010. The defendant's blood was taken without a warrant or his consent following the crash and showed his blood alcohol content level to be .157. His case had not yet been decided when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the issue, and he filed to have his blood sample evidence suppressed because it had not been an emergency according to the new decision. A trial court agreed, but a state appellate panel reversed that decision. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the defendant's case must go back to a trial court to decide if his blood sample was properly obtained under "exigent circumstances."
Anyone arrested for DUI or DWI may benefit by immediately retaining a criminal defense lawyer. Legal counsel could review the case for any evidence that a defendant's rights were violated during the arrest. It may also be possible to question the accuracy or need of any sobriety tests that a defendant was subjected to.
Source;, NJ.com, "U.S. Supreme Court ruling on blood tests in DWI cases must apply to some past cases in N.J., high court says," Brent Johnson, May 5, 2015