You thought you were safe to drive, but unfortunately, you caused an accident. An ambulance took you and the other party to the hospital. At the hospital, the nurse drew your blood to run some tests. One test was for blood alcohol, which came out clearly over the limit. Can the state use the results to convict you?
The rules about using a hospital blood test as evidence are often tricky and fact specific. Generally, compulsory testing of blood and other bodily fluids is a search under the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment applies to private individuals such as medical personnel when they act as agents of the state. Did the nurse draw your blood because officers asked for it, or because the test was needed to treat you?
For example, in People v. Schantz, the defendant turned in front of an oncoming motorcycle, killing the cyclist. The defendant went to the hospital but did not seek medical care. There, the nurse drew her blood solely at the officers’ request. The court found that the nurse was acting as an instrument of the state.
The court then looked at whether the blood draw was otherwise reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. Did it fall under an exception such as exigent circumstances, or did officers have time to get a warrant? While the natural dissipation of alcohol could support a blood draw in a specific case, it could not be used as a general excuse to evade getting a warrant. The court found no exigent circumstances. Although there was some delay involved in securing the crime scene and attending the victim, at least one officer could have applied for a warrant while the others investigated. Officers did obtain a warrant for a second blood draw, which the court then upheld.
If you have been charged with a DUI or criminal-related offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can probe for weaknesses in the state’s evidence. Was the evidence against you legally obtained? Different judges may view the facts of your case very differently. It is important to find an attorney familiar with your courthouse who may be able to present your case in its most favorable light to your particular judge.
If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.