New Jersey Court Discusses Legality of Blood Draws in DWI Cases

In many instances, the police will seek blood draw from a person suspected of DWI. The police must obtain a person’s consent or a warrant prior to obtaining a blood draw, however, and if the police fail to comply with the proper procedures for obtaining a blood sample, the results of any test on the sample may be precluded from evidence at trial. In a recent New Jersey case, the court discussed the issue of whether an improperly obtained blood draw precludes the state from introducing evidence from a second blood draw, as the fruit of an illegal search. If you were charged with DWI in New Jersey following a blood draw, it is in your best interest to consult a New Jersey DWI defense attorney regarding whether you may be able to argue that the evidence against you should be precluded.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the defendant was involved in a fatal car accident. When police officers arrived at the scene, they observed that the defendant had an unsteady gate, glassy eyes, and an odor of alcohol. The defendant was transported to the hospital due to injuries. When the defendant was first admitted to the hospital, his blood was drawn pursuant to the request of an officer. He did not sign a consent form until after his blood was drawn. A second officer arrived at the hospital and spoke with the defendant and the passenger who was with the defendant in his car at the time of the accident, who informed the officer that she and the defendant had been drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana prior to the accident.

It is alleged that the officer learned that a blood draw had been taken, but was concerned whether the defendant’s consent was properly obtained. Thus, the officer sought and obtained a warrant for a second blood draw. He did not know the results of the first blood draw at the time he sought a warrant. Prior to trial, the defendant filed a motion to suppress the results of both blood draws. The court granted the motion as to the first blood draw but not as to the second. The defendant was convicted of vehicular homicide, after which he appealed the denial of his motion to suppress the second blood draw.

Blood Draws Under New Jersey Law

Under New Jersey law, a blood draw constitutes a search and seizure that requires either consent or a warrant. A warrant will be issued where there is probable cause to believe that the search arising out of the warrant will produce evidence of a crime. In the subject case, when the officer applied for the warrant for the second blood draw, he advised the judge telephonically of his observations of the defendant and his discussions with the defendant’s passenger. Thus, the court found that the officer presented sufficient evidence to demonstrate that there was probable cause that the defendant was intoxicated at the time of the accident.

Further, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the second blood draw was compromised by the fact that the first blood draw constituted a constitutional violation. Specifically, the court found that the independent source doctrine was not triggered because the officer did not have the results of the first blood draw when he requested the warrant and therefore, did not have compromised information. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney

If you were charged with a DWI offense in New Jersey following a blood draw, it is prudent to meet with a New Jersey DWI defense attorney to discuss your available defenses. The proficient DWI defense attorneys of the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall will advocate aggressively on your behalf to help you seek the best result available under the facts of your case. You can contact us at 877-450-8301 or through the form online to set up a consultation.

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