Last month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Massachusetts drunk driving case, discussing whether a police officer can take a motorist’s blood against their will. Ultimately, the court concluded that any involuntary blood testing done at the direction of the police without the defendant’s consent is inadmissible at trial.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the driver of an SUV lost control while exiting the highway, causing her vehicle to spin out of control, blocking most of the off ramp. A few moments later, the defendant’s vehicle collided with the woman’s SUV. The SUV struck the woman, who was standing along the road’s edge, seriously injuring her.
When the police arrived, they noticed that the defendant exhibited signs of intoxication, including bloodshot eyes and an unsteady gait. He also smelled of alcohol and had a gash on his head. The defendant was transported to the hospital, where a nurse noted he may have suffered a concussion.
Police officers asked for a blood sample, and the defendant declined. Police then obtained a warrant and again tried to take the defendant’s blood. Again, he refused. Ultimately, police officers physically restrained the defendant while a nurse took his blood. The testing indicated that the defendant was intoxicated.
The defendant challenged the admissibility of the test results, arguing the testing was done in violation of his statutory rights under Massachusetts law. The court agreed, reversing his conviction. In doing so, the court took the opportunity to explain the complex workings of the state’s implied consent laws, and how they operate when a defendant physically refuses to give a blood sample.
The court began by noting that taking a defendant’s blood without his permission does not violate his constitutional rights. When motorists drive on public roads, they implicitly consent to chemical testing. However, the Massachusetts Legislature also passed another statute that provides when a blood or breath test is taken at the direction of a police officer, it must be done with the defendant’s consent in order for the results to be admissible in an OUI prosecution. That same statute provides for a six-month license suspension for any motorist who refuses chemical testing.
Here, the court agreed with the defendant that, while the police officers did not violate his constitutional rights by forcibly taking his blood, admitting the test results violated his statutory rights under Massachusetts law. Thus, the court determined that the defendant’s motion to suppress should have been granted.
Have You Been Arrested for a Massachusetts OUI?
If you have recently been arrested for a Massachusetts drunk driving offense, give Attorney Patrick J. Murphy a call to see how he can help. Attorney Murphy is a dedicated criminal defense attorney with extensive experience handling all types of serious cases, including OUI offenses. He understands the state’s complex implied consent laws, and uses his advanced knowledge to defend his clients at every step along the way. To learn more about how Attorney Murphy can help you defend against the charges you face, call 617-367-0450 to schedule a free consultation.