State v. Edwards: On the Warrant Requirement in DUI Blog Draw Cases

Tags: DUI

In State v. Edwards, a DUI case before the Supreme Court of South Dakota, Defendant was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. During his arrest, the officer read Defendant the contents of a pre-printed card.

Essentially, Defendant was informed that after being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), the fact that he was operating a motor vehicle in the state meant that he had consented to giving a blood, breath, or urine sample. Defendant was also told that he had the right to an additional chemical test by a technician of his choosing at his own expense.

The arresting officer asked Defendant twice if he understood the warning, but defendant remained silent. The arresting officer and the booking officer told him that if he refused to consent to a blood test, they would use a restraint chair and force him to give a sample. The officers then placed him in a restraint chair, held a Tazer to his stomach and told him that they would use it if he resisted. The officers were able to get a successful blood draw at this point.

Defendant was later indicted for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol under the relevant state statute. If this were an Alabama case the DUI statute can be found in §32-5A-191.1 of the state code.

In Edwards, the state filed an enhancement due to the fact that Defendant had been convicted of a DUI in 2003 and 2012, making this a charge for DUI third offense. Defendant’s attorney filed a motion to dismiss the enhancement, alleging that his guilty plea in 2003 was not knowing, voluntary, and intelligent as required by the United States Constitution. The trial court denied this motion to strike the 2003 DUI conviction.

Additionally, Defendant filed a motion to suppress the blood test evidence, on grounds that the sample was obtained without a warrant. The trial judge denied this motion, as well, and the trial was held.

At trial, Defendant was found guilty of DUI. The parties had stipulated that if the jury found Defendant guilty, the judge could impose the enhancement. The reason for this stipulation was so the jury would not hear that that a defendant was previously convicted of a DUI during the trial. For obvious reasons, that would be very harmful to a defendant’s case.

After sentencing, Defendant appealed his conviction on grounds that the judge erred in allowing the nonconsensual blood draw and that the judge had erred in allowing the 2003 conviction to be used as a sentencing enhancement.

The trial judge’s reason for denying the motion to suppress the blood test evidence was because of a good faith exception to the warrant requirement. The appellate court held there is no such exception to the warrant requirement in this case.

As the court noted, the good faith exception applies when the police had a warrant and acted on that warrant in good faith, but it was later determined that the warrant was invalid. There is no good faith exception that obviates the need for police to obtain a warrant.

Ultimately, the state supreme court affirmed the trial court’s denial, because at the time Defendant’s blood was drawn, police did not need a warrant. However, as the court noted, due to a more recent U.S. Supreme Court case, Missouri v. McNeely, a warrant would be required. If his blood had been drawn after McNeely, any evidence obtained would have been suppressed.

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