Appellate Court Rules Blood Draw Violated Woman’s 4th Amendment Rights

The 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution protects persons from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. A court determines whether a search is reasonable by carefully weighing a person’s 4th amendment rights with the government’s legitimate interests, like public safety, for example. In a recent decision, the Kansas Appellate Court found that a woman’s 4th amendment rights were violated when she was subjected to a warrantless search and seizure. The facts of this case illustrate why it is the utmost importance for persons charged with driving under the influence to have the benefit of a skilled DUI defense attorney.

In the case of State of Kansas vs. Declerck, a female motorist was involved in a single-car accident. From witness testimony, the woman lost control of her vehicle, which entered a grassy median, and rolled several times before stopping. Her sole passenger, who was not wearing a safety belt at the time of the accident, was thrown from the vehicle and later died from her injuries. The driver was transported to the hospital for her injuries.

An officer was directed to obtain a blood draw from the driver. The Officer informed the woman of the law regarding “implied consent”, but she did not agree to the draw. Under Kansas State law a person who operates a motor vehicle, is deemed to have given consent to a test (blood, urine or breath) to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs. The law also provides that an officer shall obtain a test from a driver, who is involved in an accident, which results in serious injury or death, and the driver could be cited for a traffic violation. Over the woman’s objection, the officer obtained a blood sample. Lab tests later revealed the presence of THC, the active substance in marijuana, in the woman’s blood and concluded that the woman was under some level of impairment at the time of the accident. The woman was thereafter charged with involuntary manslaughter – DUI.

In court, the woman’s attorney made a motion to have the evidence related to the blood draw suppressed, since the draw was done without a warrant, without probable cause and without the woman’s consent. The court granted the motion and the State appealed. In reaching its decision, the Appellate Court confirmed that a blood draw is considered to be a search and seizure and therefore must be done in accordance with the 4th amendment.

The Court concluded the officer did not have probable cause to believe the woman was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of accident and therefore, the blood draw violated the woman’s 4th amendment rights. The court also found that the Kansas Implied Consent law did not fall into the “consent” exception for a warrantless search. The Court did recognize that the State has an interest in protecting public safety on the roads. However, the Court determined that the portion of the Kansas law that allows a blood draw in accidents involving serious injury or death to be unconstitutional, as the law does not contain language that the person must be suspected of driving under the influence and not just of a traffic violation.

To Learn More, Contact the Whitman Law Offices Now!

If you have been charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then you need an experienced Kansas DUI Defense Attorney. For almost four decades attorney Charles E. Whitman has defended individuals charged with DUI. Skilled Kansas DUI Defense Attorney, Charles E. Whitman will fight to make sure that your rights are protected. To schedule your free and confidential consultation, contact the Whitman Law Offices today at (785) 843-9460. At the Whitman Law Offices, we look forward to providing clients with exceptional legal services.

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