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Appeals court says officers didn't need warrant for blood test

A New Jersey appeals court ruled against a DUI defendant who attempted to have the results of a blood alcohol test thrown out. The woman argued that her blood had been drawn without a warrant and that the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Missouri v. McNeely should be applied to her case. In the earlier case, the Supreme Court had ruled that police officers should always obtain a warrant for a blood draw unless there are exigent circumstances.

The recent drunk driving case involved a woman who crashed into a car that was stopped at a traffic light, causing that car to hit a third vehicle. About an hour after police officers arrived at the scene and pulled the accused drunk driver out of her vehicle, they asked a nurse to draw the woman's blood. The results of the blood test showed that the woman's blood alcohol content was over four times the legal limit.

The appeals court ruled in favor of the state because they said that the circumstances of the case threatened the destruction of evidence. According to one of the judges, the officer at the scene reasonably believed that he was confronted with an emergency that could potentially cause a delay in obtaining a warrant.

There are some drunk driving cases where evidence can be suppressed. If a police officer was not facing an emergency situation, a DUI defendant might argue that the police officer should have obtained a warrant before drawing their blood without permission. An attorney may be able to help a defendant in this situation to file a motion to suppress evidence from a blood test.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Blood Test of Drunken Driver Upheld in NJ," Nick Rummell, June 23, 2015

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Appeals court says officers didn't need warrant for blood test | The Law Offices of Palumbo & Renaud