23Oct 2020

Blood Drawn On An Unconscious Driver

A recent case in California brought the subject of warrantless blood 
draws up again. The case involved a woman who had killed six people in a 
2014 accident involving drunk driving. The woman had entered I-60 
traveling in the wrong direction, which is what precipitated the crash. 
The suspected driver was found unconscious in the wreck and officers had 
her blood drawn at the hospital, without first getting a warrant. The 
BAC level was over .08.

The driver was found guilty and appealed the verdict on the basis that 
the blood draw was done without a warrant and was therefore 
unconstitutional, being a violation of the driver's Fourth Amendment 
rights. The appeal court did not agree with her and sided with the 
prosecution. This may give one pause, however, there is precedence. Just 
as officers may have to enter a building without a search warrant if 
they hear screaming and gunshots, officers may have to draw blood if 
there are "exigent circumstances." Basically, exigent circumstances are 
there when time is of the essence.

In the case of the warrantless blood draw discussed above, the exigent 
circumstance what that the individual may have remained unconscious 
until such time as her body may have metabolized the alcohol, rendering 
a blood draw without value. The appeals court decided that, since time 
was very much of the essence, the warrantless blood draw should be 
allowed as evidence.

If you live in Burlington, Essex, Colchester, Winooski, Williston, 
Shelburne, or anywhere in the state of Vermont, and have been arrested 
or charged with DUI or any crime, call Handy Law for aggressive and 
experienced legal defense.