WI: The low threshold for def’s BAC level contributed to exigent circumstances

Defendant was unconscious after hitting a deer with his motorcycle when his blood was drawn in the hospital. There was probable cause, and, because of the delay, the officer reasonably concluded there were exigent circumstances because defendant’s offense threshold was only 0.02 or higher. State v. Howes, 2017 WI 18, 2017 Wisc. LEXIS 24 (March 1, 2017):

[*P51] We conclude that the circuit court correctly determined that the deputy had probable cause to arrest Howes for operating a vehicle with a PAC [prohibited alcohol content], and that Howes was arrested prior to obtaining a blood sample. Moreover, based on the totality of circumstances herein, the deputy’s warrantless search was permissible under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 11 of the Wisconsin Constitution under the exigent circumstances doctrine that relates to the risk of destruction of evidence. Stated more fully, under the totality of circumstances presented herein, which included a seriously injured, unconscious person, who was being subjected to medical treatments for his injuries and who had 0.02 percent as his PAC threshold, a reasonable officer could have concluded that further delay in drawing Howes’ blood would have led to the destruction of evidence through the dissipation and dilution of alcohol in Howes’ bloodstream. Therefore, we reverse the order of the circuit court and remand for further proceedings.

This entry was posted in Drug or alcohol testing. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.