Massachusetts SJC Clarifies Consent Requirement for Blood Tests in OUI Cases
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) recently clarified the circumstances under which the Commonwealth must prove that a defendant consented to a blood test at an OUI (Operating Under the Influence) trial, regardless of whether the test was administered by or at the direction of the police, or by a third party, such as a hospital.
The defendant in this case was involved in a single-vehicle collision (he hit a tree) and was found to have signs of being under the influence of alcohol, such as being unsteady on his feet, slurring his speech, having glassy eyes and having a strong odor of alcohol on his breath or on his body. After the collision, the defendant was transported to a nearby hospital, where the police gave a "preservation of evidence letter" to the hospital personnel, seeking the preservation of any blood that might be drawn during medical treatment.
The police then obtained and executed a search warrant for the defendant's blood, which was analyzed by a crime lab for blood alcohol content (BAC). The defendant was then charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol (OUI). He moved to suppress the results of the BAC analysis, arguing that he did not consent to having his blood tested.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) held that the fact that the defendant's blood was drawn by hospital personnel rather than by or at the direction of the police, did not render inapplicable the statutory requirement that he consent to the blood test for the resulting evidence to be admissible at trial. This means that even if the defendant's blood was drawn by hospital personnel for medical treatment, the prosecution still needs to prove the defendant's consent for the blood test in order for the BAC evidence to be admissible in court.
It is important to understand that in cases of an OUI, the prosecution needs to prove that you consented to having your blood drawn in order for the BAC evidence to be admissible at trial. This is a crucial aspect of a defense strategy, as the BAC evidence is often a key piece of evidence used to prove the charge. A good criminal defense attorney will look into whether or not consent for the blood test was obtained and, if not, can argue that the BAC evidence should be suppressed, which can weaken the prosecution's case against you.
At Regan Law, we have extensive knowledge and experience defending OUI cases. If you or someone you know has been charged with an OUI in Massachusetts, call me at (978) 744-1220 or fill out our contact form for a free case evaluation today.