Under New Jersey law, if a DWI suspect declines to submit to a blood test, the police must obtain a warrant to conduct a blood draw. Thus, if blood is taken from a DWI suspect without consent or a warrant, it may constitute an unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the suspect’s constitutional rights. However, there are exceptions to the rule, as demonstrated in a recent New Jersey opinion in which the court ruled that evidence of test results from blood samples that were taken during the treatment of a DWI suspect was admissible during his criminal trial. If you are accused of committing a DWI crime in New Jersey, it is smart to speak with a reliable New Jersey DWI defense attorney to calculate what evidence the State may be permitted to use against you.
Facts of the Case
It is reported that the defendant caused a multi-vehicle collision when he struck an SUV from behind, causing it to hit the car in front of it, which then became engulfed in flames. The three people in the car died immediately, and the individuals in the SUV sustained serious injuries. Emergency medical technicians that arrived at the scene noticed that the defendant, who also suffered grave harm, smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes. The defendant was transported to the hospital for care, and as part of the normal procedure, samples of his blood were drawn, and urine samples were obtained via a catheter.
Allegedly, the police arrived at the hospital shortly thereafter, and directed staff members to retain blood samples for their investigation. The police then obtained a warrant for the samples, which showed that the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration exceeded the legal limit. After the defendant was cleared for release, he was taken into custody. He was charged with numerous crimes, including three counts of reckless death by a vehicle, DWI, and driving with a suspended license. He filed a motion to suppress the results of his blood test, which the court denied. He then pleaded guilty to some of the charges, after which he appealed, arguing the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress.
Admissibility of Blood Samples Taken Without a Warrant
The appellate court noted that both the state and federal constitutions protect criminal defendants against unreasonable searches and seizures and that the withdraw of a blood sample for the purpose of analyzing its alcohol content constitutes a search. The court declined, however, to adopt the defendant’s reasoning that he was under arrest at the time his blood was drawn and, therefore, that the blood draw was unconstitutional, as it was conducted without a warrant or consent. Rather, the court noted that his blood was taken for treatment purposes, and there was no evidence suggesting that he was under arrest at the time it was taken or that any police officers were present when the samples were obtained. Thus, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.
Meet with a Seasoned New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney
If you are a resident of New Jersey and refused to submit to a breathalyzer test, it is in your best interest to meet with a lawyer to discuss what defenses you may be able to assert. The capable New Jersey DWI defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are well-versed in what it takes to obtain a favorable outcome in criminal proceedings. If you hire us, we will fight tirelessly on your behalf. We can be reached through our form online or at 877-450-8301 to set up a conference.