DUI Blood Test Without Warrant Approved by Court
The general rule of law in New Jersey is that a warrant is required before police can request that blood be drawn from a DUI suspect for purposes of testing for blood alcohol content. However, when it comes to the law, there are always exceptions from the general rule for the DUI blood test.
This week, the New Jersey Supreme Court expanded an exception to the general rule requiring a warrant by deciding that when police are faced with an emergency situation that doesn’t allow time to obtain a warrant, police may request that blood be drawn for DUI testing purposes without first securing the warrant.
While emergency circumstances have always been accepted as an exception to the warrant requirement, the most recent case, State v. Shayna Zalcberg, allows for an exigency (meaning no warrant will be needed) under circumstances typically not considered an emergency. As part of their emergency circumstances evaluation, the Zalcberg Court considered the lack of police procedure for obtaining telephonic warrants and the incorrect belief by police that no warrant would be required under the circumstances. Never before have such factors been considered in determining the existence of an exigency sufficient to justify the failure to obtain a warrant.
What does this DUI blood test mean for the DUI defendant?
Simply this – the New Jersey Supreme Court has expanded the realm of emergency circumstances that will justify the warrantless draw of blood from a DUI suspect. As a result, arguments based on older standards will clearly fail. Any challenge to a warrantless blood draw must now be based on the new reduced standard and specifically address circumstances involving any lack of police procedure and any false notions police may have with regard to their obligations under the law.
The decision clearly makes the work of the defense that much more difficult. Nonetheless, each and every case comes with its own unique set of facts. And, in the hands of a skilled and knowledgeable attorney, these unique circumstances can be used to distinguish the Zalcberg case and succeed on challenges to warrantless DUI blood test.