Articles Posted in Chemical Testing

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In a case of interest to Illinois DUI lawyers, the founder of the International Polo Club raised 13 issues before Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal regarding his DUI manslaughter conviction. The appeals court affirmed, addressing only three of the issues raised by Goodman:  (1) whether the State prematurely released his vehicle after his first trial in violation of his due process rights and requiring dismissal under California v. Trombetta; (2) that the jury instructions on the failure to render aid enhancements violated due process by failing to require that he knew that the accident resulted in injuries or death; and (3) that his blood was drawn without a warrant, violating the Fourth Amendment Search and Seizure Clause.gavel Following a late-night car 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 and vehicular homicide with failure to render aid. He was convicted and sentenced following his first trial. After juror misconduct came to light, the first conviction was vacated, and he was granted a new trial. In the second trial, he was again found guilty.

Regarding the defendant’s first challenge on appeal, the court agreed with the state and held that the court did not err in denying the motion to dismiss due to the loss of the car. Pursuant to Trombetta, the constitutional duty of the state to preserve evidence must be limited to evidence that might be expected to play a significant role in the suspect’s defense. To meet this standard of constitutional materiality, evidence must both possess an exculpatory value that was apparent before the evidence was destroyed and be of such a nature that the defendant would be unable to obtain comparable evidence by other reasonably available means.

The appeals court agreed with the trial court that the state did not act in bad faith in releasing the car. Therefore, it had to determine whether the car constituted materially exculpatory or only potentially useful evidence. The trial court held a full hearing on the issue of the exculpatory nature of the car and concluded that it was merely potentially exculpatory. It reasoned that the defendant’s expert, by his own testimony, had already formed an opinion of the malfunction and that his opinion on the state of the car at the time of the crash was complete. The “mere possibility of helping the defense” by conducting more testing on the car, which was already subjected to extensive testing by three experts, did not rise to the level of constitutional materiality.

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When a motorist drives on a road in Pennsylvania, he or she is “deemed to have given consent” to chemical testing to determine whether he or she is driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance (“DUI”), provided that a police officer first develops “reasonable grounds” to suspect such an impairment. Nonetheless, this “implied consent” statute also grants DUI arrestees the right to refuse chemical testing. While Illinois has its own laws, these principles are also relevant to Illinois DUI defendants.blood test

In a recent case, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted an appeal to consider the lawfulness of a warrantless blood draw conducted upon a motorist who, having been arrested for DUI, had then been rendered unconscious by medical personnel before a police officer provided O’Connell warnings and before the officer requested the motorist’s submission to a chemical test. The Philadelphia Municipal Court, the Court of Common Pleas, and the Superior Court all held that a blood draw conducted under these circumstances is impermissible and that the results of the derivative blood test are accordingly inadmissible at trial. Since the seizure of blood violated Pennsylvania’s implied consent statute, 75 Pa.C.S. § 1547, and since no other circumstances justified the failure to obtain a search warrant, the state high court affirmed.

On December 29, 2012, at approximately 3:30 p.m., a Philadelphia Police Officer was on routine patrol when he received a radio call indicating that there was a person screaming in the vicinity of 100 West Penn Street. The radio call warned him to be on the lookout for a maroon SUV. When he arrived on West Penn Street, he observed a vehicle matching that description with its engine running and its brake lights repeatedly flickering on and off. A man later identified as the defendant was sitting in the driver’s seat. The officer activated his siren and emergency lights and pulled up behind the maroon SUV. The defendant exited the vehicle and began to stagger toward the officer, even though he had not been ordered to step out of the vehicle. He tried to speak, but his speech was so slurred that the officer could not understand what he was saying. He detected the smell of alcohol emanating from the defendant, and he observed a bottle of brandy on the front seat of the SUV. The bottle was in plain view, since the defendant had left the driver’s door open when he exited the vehicle. Based upon his observations and experience, the officer believed that the defendant was intoxicated to the point that he required medical attention. He placed him under arrest for DUI and called for a wagon, which transported the defendant to Einstein Medical Center.

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A New Jersey resident allegedly contracted MRSA after being forced to take a urine sample following her 2012 DUI arrest. She recently received $140,000 to settle her ensuing lawsuit against Ocean City, two police officers, Shore Medical Center, and two nurses. The case alleged illegal search and seizure, due process violations, malicious prosecution, negligence, conspiracy, excessive force, assault, informed consent, and battery.

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In the lawsuit, filed in New Jersey United District Court in July 2014, she claimed she was infected with the antibiotic and bacteria-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in July 2012 after being pulled over for DUI. She claimed that during her arrest, an Ocean City police officer attempted to administer several field sobriety tests. The driver claimed that she fell asleep in the car on the way to the police station, and the officer did not detect any odor of alcohol on her during the investigation or the ride to the police station.

The driver explained that she could not take a Breathalyzer due to her chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She was then given 10 cups of water in an attempt to have her complete a urine test, but she was unable to urinate, the lawsuit said. She claimed that after being unable to provide a urine sample, she was taken to Shore Medical, where urine and blood samples were extracted without her consent. For the urine sample, nurses inserted a catheter, from which she claimed she contracted MRSA. An Ocean City police officer assisted with the catheterization procedure, leading to the infection, the case said.

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The Hawaii Supreme Court recently addressed the right of a DUI suspect to communicate and consult with counsel under Hawaii law. Following his DUI arrest, the defendant was affirmatively advised that he was not entitled to an attorney before submitting to any tests to determine his breath or blood alcohol concentration. The Hawaii Supreme Court held that the defendant was erroneously denied access to counsel, but under the facts of the case, his refusal to submit to testing was not subject to suppression.

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In June 2013, the defendant was stopped while driving west on Kailua Road by two Honolulu police officers for weaving between lanes. An officer informed the defendant why he had stopped him, and the defendant responded that he had consumed a few drinks with his friends. The officer detected an odor of alcohol emitting from the defendant’s breath and noticed that he was flushed. The other officer administered field sobriety testing to the defendant, and based on the results, he arrested the defendant and took him to the police station.

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The Colorado Supreme Court recently upheld the state’s expressed consent statute in three consolidated DUI cases in which warrantless blood draw evidence was suppressed by the trial court. The cases dealt with various elements of the expressed consent law.

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Colorado’s expressed consent statute states that any driver on Colorado roads automatically consents to take a breath or blood test when asked to do so by an officer with probable cause that the driver is intoxicated.

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The Minnesota Supreme Court recently held the Fourth Amendment requires law enforcement to secure a warrant before requiring its citizens to submit to a blood or urine test, meaning Minnesotans can now lawfully refuse such a search when law enforcement doesn’t have a warrant. The Minnesota ACLU heralded the decision.

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Late one evening in April 2012, an Owatonna police officer watched patrons leaving a bar at closing time. The officer saw a vehicle, which police later determined appellant Thompson was driving, jump the curb and then stop quickly before reversing and leaving the parking lot. As the vehicle turned onto the street outside the bar, it cut the corner short and crossed the center line. The officer initiated a traffic stop.

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