COURT DETERMINES THAT A WARRANT WAS REQUIRED TO TAKE A BLOOD TEST IN NEW JERSEY

In June of 2011, Sundeep Sekhon was the driver in a solo crash that killed his passenger, Amarinder Singh Sandul. Sekhon was arrested and, roughly an hour and fifteen minutes after the crash, was subjected to a blood test. The result of the test was that Sekhon's blood alcohol level was .06, which is below the .08 legal limit, but was found to be high enough for an expert to determine that he was legally intoxicated at the time of the accident. Sekhon has been charged with vehicular homicide, but it appears that the blood test showing his likely intoxication at the time of the crash will no longer be admissible at trial. 

When Sekhon came before a New Jersey Superior Court judge to contest the admission of the results of the blood test in September of 2013, Superior Court Judge Michael Donio determined that, based on a recent United States Supreme Court decision, the blood test could not be admitted because it was taken without a warrant. The United States Supreme Court case Judge Donio relied on, Missouri v. McNeely, held the following:

  • Police are required to obtain a warrant before taking a blood test to determine whether an individual is intoxicated, unless the police can show that there were "exigent," or emergency, circumstances making getting a warrant impossible or impractical
  • The natural dissipation and metabolization of alcohol will not normally qualify as an "exigent" circumstance
  • If police do not obtain a warrant before taking a blood test, the test will be considered an "unreasonable search and seizure" under the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution, and will not be admissible as evidence in court.

Even though Sekhon was arrested and had his blood tested years before the Supreme Court decision in question, the New Jersey Supreme Court recently decided that the revised rule still applies, and the results of Sekhon's blood test cannot be admitted against him in court, since police had sufficient time to obtain a warrant to test Sekhon's blood before doing so, and no exigent circumstances applied.

If you or a loved one have been charged for driving while intoxicated, find expert legal assistance to ensure that your constitutional rights are protected. Contact experienced New Jersey DWI attorneys at Smith & Doran at 973-292-0016 to receive a consultation on your case.

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