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DUI Case Highlights from Paul Burglin San Francisco DUI Attorney - State v. Reed

Posted on in DUI

Some interesting cases relating to common California DUI defense issues have been published in the past few months. Some, such as the State v. Reed case below, are binding legal precedents that California courts must follow in drunk driving cases. Out-of-state decisions from state appellate courts are not binding on California Courts, but they are often looked to as persuasive precedent by trial judges presiding over DUI motions to suppress evidence and trial.

This is why it is important to have a Board-Certified DUI defense attorney in your corner who keeps abreast of these decisions, as they may impact your case.

State v. Reed

- S.W.3d - -, 2013 WL 2285129 (Mo.App. S.D.) – Docket No. SD 32465

The State appealed the trial court’s suppression of blood-alcohol test results by arguing that the following “totality of circumstances" presented an exigent circumstance that dispensed with a warrant requirement: “(1) the trooper had to complete a prior DWI investigation prior to turning his attention to Reed; (2) the trooper had to allow twenty minutes for Reed to attempt to contact an attorney before refusing to consent to the blood test; (3) the trooper had to transport Reed to the hospital (for the test); (4) the evanescent nature of blood alcohol concentration; and (5) the additional hour or two delay necessary to obtain a search warrant. The State frames the argument thusly: `Does a two hour and five minute delay caused by a prior driving while intoxicated investigation, the evanescent nature of blood alcohol concentration in a person's blood, and an additional hour or two hour delay necessary to obtain a search warrant create an exigent circumstance to the search warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment?’"

In affirming the trial court’s suppression of the evidence, the Court noted the trial court’s ruling was substantially supported by the following findings:

  1. “[T]here was no evidence submitted by the State that other law enforcement officers were unavailable to assist [the trooper]. In fact, [the trooper] did request and receive the assistance of a Deputy Sheriff in transporting Reed to the jail. There was no reason given why that Deputy, or others, could not have helped in completing the application for and obtaining a search warrant."
  2. “[T]here was no accident to investigate and no need to arrange for the medical treatment of an injured person. In fact, there was no[t] even erratic driving to investigate."
  3. [The trooper] had a host of choices before him.... [H]e chose not to seek a search warrant. He did not call the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney to determine whether search warrants would readily be available. He testified that he knew how to do so, was trained to do so, and had done so in the past."

This case was heard at the trial court level prior to the SCOTUS decision in McNeely v. Missouri , but subsequent to State v. McNeely , 358 S.W.3d 65 (Mo. bank 2012) which was affirmed by SCOTUS. McNeely held that warrantless blood draws in DUI cases are presumptively unconstitutional.

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