A 32-year-old woman facing multiple criminal charges after an April 8 crash in Key West that killed an off-duty Delray Beach police officer and left another critically injured is being represented by Broward County criminal defense attorney Evan A. Hoffman. Key West police told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that the alleged offender had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.17 based on a blood sample forcibly obtained after the alleged offender refused to perform field sobriety exercises or allow a blood sample to be taken.
The Sun Sentinel reported that Hoffman “expressed surprise” that his client was taken into custody in Broward County. “I believe you don’t arrest someone until you have all the evidence,” Hoffman told the Sun Sentinel. “As for the victims being police officers, I would hope that’s not the reason for rushing. But I would also hope that when you arrest someone and hold them tantamount to no bond, you have all the evidence.”
Hoffman told the Sun Sentinel that a Key West police officer told him they did not have test results for the Delray Beach police officers, and that there is also video of the crash that he had not yet seen. “Right now, her speedy trial starts and if they don’t get all the evidence in by six months or so, they’ll have problems,” Hoffman told the Sun Sentinel. “We’re gonna want to test the blood on all three women. We’re gonna test everything.”
According to the Sun Sentinel, the alleged offender was driving a Nissan Altima that collided with a scooter the two police officers were riding. Investigators told the Sun Sentinel they found “a marijuana cigarette on the floor of the Nissan’s driver’s side and smelled its odor emanating from the vehicle.”
While authorities planned to take the alleged offender back to Monroe County to face criminal charges, Hoffman told WPTV-TV that there were a significant number of questions that needed to be answered. “Did they use the proper kit, did they swab with alcohol at the scene, do they have a proper warrant to draw the blood, how long did they wait to get the blood?” Hoffman asked WPTV. “This is the end result but there is so many factors that lead to that result, if any of them are off or skewed, the whole thing is off.”
The woman is facing charges of driving under the influence (DUI) manslaughter, DUI causing serious bodily injury, DUI with property damage, and possession of marijuana. “We are pleading not guilty,” Hoffman told WFOR-TV. “We are going to contest everything about this case.”
Attorney for DUI Test Refusal in Broward County
Florida Statute § 316.1933(1)(a) establishes that a law enforcement officer can require a person driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle to submit to a test of his or her blood for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content thereof or the presence of chemical substances or any controlled substance when the law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that the motor vehicle driven by or in the actual physical control of a person alleged under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substances, or any controlled substances has caused the death or serious bodily injury of a human being. Furthermore, the same statute authorizes law enforcement officers to use reasonable force when necessary to require such persons to submit to the administration of the blood tests.
Blood tests are not only incredibly invasive, but they are also especially complicated. Under Florida Statute § 316.1933(2)(a), the only parties authorized to withdraw blood for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content thereof or the presence of chemical substances or controlled substances therein are physicians, certified paramedics, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, other personnel authorized by hospitals to draw blood, or duly licensed clinical laboratory directors, supervisors, technologists, or technicians acting at the request of a law enforcement officer.
In Missouri v. McNeely, 569 U.S. ___ (2013), the United States Supreme Court held that the nonconsensual warrantless blood draws violate an alleged offender’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches of his person, but the Court left open the possibility that the “exigent circumstances” exception could still apply in some drunk driving cases. The Supreme Court of Florida defined exigent circumstances as follows in Rolling v. State, 695 So.2d 278, 293 (Fla. 1997):
Generally, the Fourth Amendment does safeguard against a warrantless entry into a person’s home for purposes of a routine felony arrest. Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 100 S.Ct. 1371, 63 L.Ed.2d 639 (1980). Where exigent circumstances exist, however, certain warrantless entries are permitted. Arango v. State, 411 So.2d 172 (Fla.), cert. denied, 457 U.S. 1140, 102 S.Ct. 2973, 73 L.Ed.2d 1360 (1982). The kinds of exigencies or emergencies that may support a warrantless entry include those related to the safety of persons or property, see Richardson v. State, 247 So.2d 296 (Fla.1971), as well as the safety of police. Jones v. State, 440 So.2d 570 (Fla.1983). Of course, a key ingredient of the exigency requirement is that the police lack time to secure a search warrant. Police may not enter and search for dangerous instrumentalities or other evidence, even if they have probable cause to believe it is on the premises or otherwise subject to removal or destruction, if they have time to obtain a warrant and then enter under that authority. Jennings v. State, 419 So.2d 750 (Fla. 2d DCA 1982); Graham v. State, 406 So.2d 503 (Fla. 3d DCA 1981). Moreover, an entry based on an exigency must be limited in scope to its purpose. Thus, an officer may not continue her search once she has determined that no exigency exists. Anderson v.State, 665 So.2d 281 (Fla. 5th DCA 1995).
Whether you were arrested for a drunk driving crime after submitting to a blood test or having blood forcibly withdrawn, it is always in your best interest to immediately seek legal counsel for help fighting the criminal charges. Broward County criminal defense lawyer Evan A. Hoffman will work to protect your constitutional rights and challenge any illegally obtained evidence.