Blood samples in fatal accidents – 4th Amendment Rights

On January 28, 2020, our highest court, The Supreme Court of Maine (the “Law Court”) said “no.”  In State v. Weddle, the Court overruled its previous decision that a warrantless blood draw taken pursuant to 29-A M.R.S.A. §2522 was constitutional.

In this important decision, the Defendant, who was the operator of a tractor trailer, was involved in a major motor vehicle accident.  Upon arrival to the scene, law enforcement observed the Defendant’s tractor trailer upside down in a ditch with a load of lumber scattered across the road and the Defendant pinned inside his trailer.  Law enforcement believed that the Defendant caused the accident. The police decided to obtain a blood sample from the Defendant despite having no information that probable cause existed to believe that the Defendant was intoxicated.

The Law Court decided that previous decision was no longer applicable because it does not reflect the high expectation of privacy rooted in the 4th Amendment to prevent law enforcement from invading a person’s body to obtain a blood sample in order to use it as evidence in a criminal prosecution.  Consequently the Law Court overruled Cormier and determined that Section 2522(2) and (3) are unconstitutional because it allows law enforcement to search a person in the form of an intrusive, nonconsensual blood draw in the absence of probable cause.

The reader of this summary should remember that this summary does not constitute legal advice. Every case is different. If questions about the law, consult a qualified attorney.



By |2020-03-12T21:08:28+00:00March 12th, 2020|News|0 Comments