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State Supreme Court Hears Arguments Challenging State’s Rules for Testing BAC

This summer, the Florida Supreme Court heard arguments regarding whether the state has sufficient rules for measuring the blood-alcohol levels for DUI suspects. The case arose after a Palm Beach millionaire was convicted of DUI manslaughter following a 2010 collision. His attorneys challenged the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (“FDLE“) rules before the state high court. While the rules are not exactly the same in Illinois, people charged with an Illinois DUI may raise similar types of arguments in some cases.

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Following a late-night two-vehicle accident, in which the other driver died after his vehicle was submerged in a canal, the defendant was charged with DUI manslaughter with failure to render aid (Count 1) and vehicular homicide with failure to render aid (Count 2). He was convicted and sentenced following his first trial. After juror misconduct came to light, his first conviction was vacated, and he was granted a new trial.

At the second trial, the evidence showed that he ran a stop sign without braking and “t-boned” the victim. He was going 63 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone. The force of the impact pushed the victim’s Hyundai through the intersection and into a nearby canal, where it came to rest upside down. The defendant did not remain on the scene or assist the victim, who ultimately drowned. The victim did not sustain fatal injuries in the collision itself. Earlier in the evening, the defendant had consumed alcohol at several venues, the amount of which was a contested issue at trial. He was charged with DUI Manslaughter, Failure to Give Information or Render Aid, and Failure to Render Aid and Vehicular Homicide.

Prior to trial, he moved to exclude the BAC (blood-alcohol content) results taken pursuant to Florida’s implied consent statutes. Specifically, he challenged Florida Administrative Code Rules 11D-8.012 and 11D-8.013 and the FDLE’s authority to enforce these rules. Following a hearing, an administrative law judge denied the defendant’s motion to exclude the blood test results. He was convicted of the above-listed charges and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

The defendant thereafter appealed the administrative law judge’s order and raised three issues:  (1) the FDLE lacked authority to enforce the DUI rules; (2) Rule 11D-8.012 was an invalid exercise of legislative power because it failed to denote standards for how the blood is collected for analysis; and (3) Rule 11D-8.013 was an invalid exercise of legislative power because it failed to include a process to exclude untrustworthy samples.

The appeals court affirmed the convictions, reasoning that the defendant failed to show that Rules 8.012 and 8.013 do not ensure the accuracy of the blood testing program. The administrative law judge’s and trial court’s determinations that these rules adequately protect the reliability and consistency of blood testing were supported by competent evidence in the record on appeal, the intermediate court concluded. The defendant appealed, and the state high court granted certiorari.

Oral arguments before the Florida Supreme Court were held on August 30, 2017. The defendant’s attorney argued that the state lacks adequate safeguards to prevent drawn blood from clotting, which can result in artificially high measurements of BAC levels, and that the state doesn’t require adequate screening of samples. Therefore, she contended, the FDLE’s blood-alcohol rules are both inadequate and inconsistent with the core policies of the implied consent law.

On the other side, the Florida Deputy Solicitor General argued that the department’s rules sufficiently regulate both blood collection and blood-alcohol testing to ensure the reliability and accuracy of the test results for the purposes of Florida’s implied consent law.

The Florida Supreme Court has not yet issued a ruling.

If you have been charged with a DUI offense in Illinois, it is crucial to speak to an experienced Illinois DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Harvatin Law Offices, PC provides knowledgeable representation to people in Springfield and throughout Illinois. We have considerable experience defending individuals charged with DUI offenses and representing drivers with revoked licenses before the Illinois Secretary of State. To learn more, and to set up a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us toll-free at 1-800-829-8513.

More Blog Posts:

Washington Supreme Court Holds Random Urine Testing of DUI Probationer is Constitutionally Sound, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, November 2, 2017.

State Appeals Court Upholds Polo Mogul’s DUI Manslaughter Conviction, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, October 2, 2017.

Ten-Year Court Battle Culminates in Probation for Riverdale Homicide Defendant, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, September 1, 2017.