Newark, NJ- The New Jersey Supreme Court recently decided that a warrantless blood test ruling from the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Missouri vs. McNeely decision must be applied retroactively to DWI cases that were still open at the time of the McNeely decision in the State of New Jersey. This decision may give some DWI offenders in the state the opportunity to have their DWI case reviewed.
Prior to 2013, law enforcement agencies in New Jersey believed they were allowed take blood of DWI/DUI suspect when exigent circumstances existed without first securing a warrant based solely on the fact that alcohol quickly dissipates in the blood.
That belief, though, changed in April of 2013 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Missouri vs. McNeely that the dissipation of alcohol in the blood stream alone is not enough to justify violating an individual’s protections against unreasonable search and seizure as outlined by the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The case involved a man, McNeely who was convicted of DWI based on test results from a blood draw for which the arresting officer did not obtain a warrant.
McNeely appealed his conviction arguing that the results from his blood test were inadmissible because they were obtained through an unreasonable search or seizure. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed, noting that the dissipation of alcohol in the blood stream was not enough to justify violating a suspects Fourth amendment rights unless exigent circumstances existed.
Many in New Jersey anticipated that the Missouri vs. McNeely would apply to future or undecided DWI cases. But on May 4th of this year the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the decision in McNeely must be applied retroactively.
Timothy Adkins of Pennsville, New Jersey was arrested and charged with DWI after his car struck a utility pole, causing injury to two passengers. During the course of his arrest, police took Adkins to the hospital and had his blood drawn without first obtaining a warrant. The results of the blood test were used to charge Adkins with a DWI and assault by auto.
In light of the McNeely decision, Adkins moved to have the blood test evidence suppressed, and a trial court agreed with his motion. However an appeals panel later denied the motion to suppress and Adkins appealed to the New Jersey Supreme Court. In his case, the Supreme Court ruled that the dissipation of blood is one factor within the totality of the circumstances to consider in determining if exigent circumstances existed and referred his case back to a trial court to weight those factors.
As a New Jersey DWI defense attorney, I understand the importance of these two decisions and how they can be used in a client’s defense. If your DWI case is still open in a trial or appellate court and your blood was drawn before the McNeely decision, this case directly affects your case. If your case was closed because a judge denied your motion to suppress blood evidence on the grounds that McNeely wasn’t retroactive, you may be able to reopen your case. My goal is to give each of my clients a strong and effective defense that will increase their chances of avoiding a DWI conviction. If you are facing a DWI charge contact my Newark office so we can discuss the details and decide the best way to approach your case.