My client was charged with Felony DUI for allegedly driving under the influence and causing an accident which resulted in injury to another.  The main evidence in the case was a blood test that showed his BAC was .17.   After a contested hearing, the blood result was excluded from trial and the prosecution had no choice but to significantly reduce the charges.

The Situation: My client was facing prison on a Felony DUI after he was involved in an accident that caused injury to two other individuals.  He also had a prior DUI which was threatening to enhance the prison sentence.

My client was in a bad situation.  After speeding down the highway, he rear-ended another vehicle in a violent crash that resulted in serious injuries to himself and the two other people in car in front of him.  The woman who was driving that car was also pregnant.

The police came to the scene to render aid at the scene.  My client was rushed to the hospital.  The responding officer followed the ambulance to the hospital and, without consent, took a blood sample from my client.  The result of the blood test was a 0.17 BAC.  For context, the legal limit in California is .08 BAC.  My client also had a prior DUI in 2013 for which he was currently on probation at the time of the accident.

The district attorney filed Felony DUI charges against my client and alleged a prior conviction.  She also charged him with two counts of driving on a suspended license and being a habitual offender of driving on a suspended license.

In discussions with the court and the prosecution, they were seeking serious prison time given the aggravating nature of the crime.  They were not willing to offer any plea bargain.

The Result: Client got unprecedented reductions and dismissals  after I successfully got the blood test thrown out of court.

When reviewing the case, I noticed that the arresting officer was inexperienced.  I also noticed that he never obtained consent for the blood draw (since my client was out-of-it as a result of his injuries).  He also never bothered to obtain a search warrant for the blood draw.  I challenged the legality of this seizure of evidence through a process called a Motion to Suppress Evidence pursuant to California Penal Code 1538.5.

In a Motion to Suppress, the defense basically asserts that police or prosecution has violated the Fourth Amendment (the right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures).  If the judge finds that they have violated the Fourth Amendment, the evidence obtained as a result cannot be used in the case; it is suppressed.

After a contested motion and hearing where the arresting officer provided testimony, the judge ruled that the officer violated the Fourth Amendment.  Specifically, he should have obtained a warrant before drawing the blood from my client.  The blood result was thrown out.

As a result of this, the prosecution had no choice but to significantly reduce the charges.  The prosecution reduced the felony DUI to a misdemeanor, dropped the prior DUI enhancement, and dismissed all charges relating to driving on a suspended license.  My client ended up with with no prison, no felony and the county’s standard terms and conditions for a first time misdemeanor DUI.

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