Blood Draw as Evidence in Florida DUI Cases
Palm Beach County has witnessed many high profile criminal trials play out in the media. Recently, in Palm Beach County, Florida there has been much buzz in the air about “blood” samples and a DUI crash that took the life of Scott Wilson, a young man from Wellington, whose death was caused by Polo and Air Condition Mogul John Goodman. What about the “blood” draws and Florida DUI Laws? There are many sub-topics contained within this body of law, but it is a safe bet to place “all your money” on the Court finding against the DUI driver of an automobile; whose blood was drawn after he or she caused the death or serious bodily injury to a person.
Why do criminal defendants face an uphill battle when trying to get there blood suppressed after a DUI crash that caused serious injury or death to a person? The answer is in the way the law has been written and interpreted through Appellate Court rulings.
Simply stated, if a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that a driver of a motor vehicle was under the influence of alcohol beverages, any chemical substances, or any controlled substances at the time of a crash that caused serious bodily injury or death to a person, then the law enforcement officer must require the driver to submit to a test of their blood for determining the presents of alcohol, chemical substances or any controlled substances. If the driver involved in the DUI crash refused to submit to the blood test, the law enforcement officer may use reasonable force if necessary to require the driver to submit in a reasonable manner to the blood draw for the purposes of a DUI crash investigation.
So first, the Law Enforcement Officer must form the element that the DUI driver was the wheel person or the person in actual physical control of the vehicle at the time the crash occurred causing the serious bodily injury or death to person. This is easily established by the officer actually seeing the driver in the seat behind the wheel of the automobile, the driver actually stating to emergency personnel at the scene of the DUI crash that he or she was driving the vehicle involved in the accident, emergency personnel finding the driver behind the wheel after arriving on scene of the DUI crash or by a host of other factors like the DNA on the driver side air-bag which matches the DNA of the suspected DUI driver who caused the death or serious injury to a person during the DUI crash.
Second, the Law Enforcement Officer must believe that probable cause exist that the driver of a DUI crash was under the influence at the time the crash occurred causing the serious bodily injury or death to another. Probable cause can be determined by many different factors, but Law Enforcement Officers rely on their “nose” more than any other piece of police equipment to determine probable cause existed to draw the blood of the driver of a DUI crash. Without fail, every DUI probable cause affidavit will state that the “officer could smell alcohol” coming from the person or breath of the driver involved in the DUI crash, which caused the death or serious bodily injury of another.
Lastly, serious bodily injury or death to another can be shown by any injury to any person, including the driver, which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ. See Fla. Gen Stat. 316.1933 (1) (b).
If the first three elements are present: (i) driver was the wheel person;(ii) probable cause to believe the wheel person is under the influence; and (iii) crash involving serious bodily injury; then the Courts of the Florida have always upheld the blood draw of a driver suspected in a DUI crash that caused the serious injury or death to a person.
In order to prevail in a blood draw case, the driver suspected of the DUI crash causing serious bodily injury or death to a person, must show that one of above three elements has not been proven by the Prosecutor on behalf of the State of Florida in the prosecution of the DUI driver. Arguing that one of the above three elements is lacking is the best way for a driver suspected in a DUI crash causing sever bodily injury or death to get their blood drawn thrown out of court.
Too many drivers in Florida, who after being arrested for DUI crashes, make arguments mostly through their lawyers that do not even pass the laugh test, when it comes to trying get their blood draws thrown out. Many DUI crash drivers argue, through their attorney’s, that the Administrative Code prohibits or prevents blood draw reports, DUI Intoxilyxer 8000 reports and other forms of evidence from being introduced into evidence at the driver’s DUI crash trial because the “procedures” were not followed.
The “procedures” the drivers accused in DUI crashes causing death or serious bodily injury are referring to; are “FDLE” rules and regulations. The chances of a criminal court throwing out key pieces of evidence, like a blood draw, from a suspected DUI driver who was involved in a DUI crash causing the death or serious bodily injury of a person, through their attorneys’ argument that “FDLE” rules and regulations are flawed are slim to none; and slim just left the train station.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement has promulgated the “procedural regulations” which are much different than substantive rights listed above. The first three elements laid out in this blog are substantive rights that we as Floridians enjoy under the Florida Constitution, because how the laws of Florida have been passed. On the other hand, “FDLE” regulations are not substantive but in fact “procedural” rights. Whether you like it or not, Courts have always bent to procedural regulations and the bending almost always sways towards the “State.” Whereas the Courts have given the “people” the benefit of the law when the “substantive” rights are at issue and have been violated by Law Enforcement.
So in the end, the prediction is that the blood draw of John Goodman will stand and be used against him in his re-trail for the DUI death of Scott Wilson of Wellington, FL. Hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands, studies and practices in the area of criminal defense through his own writings, motions, and arguments can mean the difference between your freedom and throwing your money out the window.
If you or a loved one has been arrested or is suspected of a DUI crash that caused serious bodily injury or death to a person contact Attorney Andrew D. Stine. West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney Andrew D. Stine has been going to trial for over a decade on DUI cases and has experience in hundreds of DUI cases. Palm Beach DUI lawyer Andrew D. Stine’s experience of over 10 years of helping those accused of DUI, DUI crash that caused serious bodily injury or death to a person and DUI Homicide is instrumental in helping you or a loved one resolve their dui related crime. HIRE STINE OR DO THE TIME.