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Florida court rules blood-alcohol evidence admissible in retrial

Drunk driving charges are often bolstered at trial by breath test results or blood-alcohol evidence obtained shortly after a traffic stop. Accordingly, it is usually in the best interest of the individual facing the charges to try to get the evidence excluded from trial.  A Florida man recently attempted to do this at his retrial for DUI manslaughter. The conviction at the first trial the man went through was thrown out after it was discovered that a juror failed to disclose that his former wife had been arrested for DUI.

The accused, a well-known polo mogul in the state of Florida, sought to have blood-evidence thrown out at the new trial. The basis for this was that it was obtained without a search warrant, violating the man’s Fourth Amendment rights.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the prosecution opposed the request. It asserted that authorities had probable cause to think the man was a drunk driver because of things they witnessed at the scene including the odor of alcohol, bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. The results of the blood test, which was conducted approximately two hours after the crash, indicated that the alcohol in the man’s blood was more than twice the legal level.

The court recently ruled that the evidence regarding the blood-alcohol level of the accused will be heard at the new trial. It is a significant ruling since it is the first in the state of Florida since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling on when blood may be drawn from individuals suspected of driving while drunk.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding one’s drunk driving charge, the consequences can be severe. For example, at his first trial the man in this instance was sentenced to 16 years in prison. While cases where someone is arrested for DUI without inflicting harm upon another individual of course result in less harsh sentences, they can nonetheless still be life changing. Accordingly in most cases it is a good idea for all to work with a lawyer who handles such cases.

Source: The Palm Beach Post, “Judge rules blood drawn from John Goodman in DUI manslaughter case will remain in evidence,” Daphne Duret, Jan. 3, 2014

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