Friday, November 28, 2014
Court of Appeal Upholds Warrantless Blood Draw From Parolee Who Did Not Consent
From Staff and Wire Service Reports
Authorities don’t need a warrant to draw blood from a parolee who doesn’t consent to a blood test, the First District Court of Appeal said Wednesday.
The court made the determination in a ruling over a DUI case in Solano County. Defendant Bobby Lynn Jones was under post-release community supervision when he got into a DUI crash in Fairfield.
Jones was stopped by police, on foot, minutes after the crash—which sent the other vehicle down an embankment, causing soft-tissue injuries to the driver of that car—in an area about 400 yards from the crash site where pedestrian traffic was banned by ordinance. He denied having been in a crash, claiming he had walked about three miles, from Vacaville.
Police noted he appeared to have been drinking, and linked him to the crash through the residue on his clothes, indicating his airbag had deployed, and through the Toyota key in his pocket. After the key opened his vehicle, he admitted to being in a crash, and was advised of the requirement that he take a chemical test for intoxication.
After refusing both a breath test and a blood test, he was taken to a hospital and had blood drawn against his will and without a warrant. He was found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.25 percent.
He was charged with several felonies and five prior-prison-term enhancements. He pled no contest to DUI with injury and resisting an officer in exchange for a five-year prison term, subject to an appeal limited to the admissibility of the blood sample.
Div. Five, in an opinion by Justice Terence Bruiniers, sided with the trial court, saying blood draws were included in the warrantless searches Jones was subject to under the terms of his supervision. Convicts on parole, probation or under supervised release can be subject to search without suspicion as long as the search is not arbitrary or intended to harass, the jurist noted.
Jones’ attorney, Gordon Brownell, said he was reviewing the decision and had not yet decided whether he would ask the state Supreme Court to hear the case.
“Taking blood is different than reaching into someone’s pockets or cars,” he said. “What police did was outside the scope of what’s considered a reasonable search of an adult felon in the custody of the police.”
Jones also argued that the blood test should be invalidated based on Missouri v. McNeely (2013) 133 S.Ct. 1552, which said police usually should try to obtain a search warrant from a judge before ordering blood tests for drunken-driving suspects.
That decision came out seven months after Jones’ arrest, and Bruniers said it did not apply retroactively to his case.
The case is People v. Jones, A140054.
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