Wednesday, December 28, 2011

DWI Law- Illegal Search Warrant Suppresses Blood Draw Says Texas

In Crider v. State of Texas, --- S.W.3d ----, 2011 WL 5554806 (Tex.Crim.App.) the defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress the search warrant. He claimed that the warrant failed to establish that the warrant was "timely" and not "stale". The appellate court agreed, holding that:

"[T]he affidavit in this case is not sufficient to show probable cause because there could have been a twenty-five-hour gap between the time the officer first stopped appellant and the time he obtained a search warrant for blood."

In discussing the requirements for a search warrant, the court pointed to the law governing timeliness for the search warrant, otherwise referred to as the 'staleness doctrine":

"Probable cause is not determined by merely counting the number of days between the time of the facts relied upon and the warrant's issuance. The significance of the length of time between the point probable cause arose and when the warrant issued depends largely upon the property's nature, and should be contemplated in view of the practical considerations of every day life. The test is one of common sense." 

"Affidavits are to be read “realistically and with common sense,” and reasonable inferences may be drawn from the facts and circumstances set out within the four corners of the affidavit.FN8 But there must be sufficient facts within the affidavit to support a probable-cause finding that the evidence is still available and in the same location. We agree that the “proper method to determine whether the facts supporting a search warrant have become stale is to examine, in light of the type of criminal activity involved, the time elapsing between the occurrence of the events set out in the affidavit and the time the search warrant was issued.” FN9 No hard-and-fast rule sets the outer limit of time between stopping an apparently intoxicated driver and the existence of probable cause that evidence of intoxication will still be found within that person's blood. The ultimate criteria in determining the evaporation of probable cause are not found in case law, but in reason and common sense. The hare and the tortoise do not disappear over the hill at the same speed. The likelihood that the evidence sought is still available and in the same place is a function, not just of the watch or the calendar, but of the particular variables in the case:

(1) the type of crime—short-term intoxication versus long-term criminal enterprise or conspiracy;

(2) the suspect—“nomadic” traveler, “entrenched” resident, or established ongoing businessman;

(3) the item to be seized—“perishable and easily transferred” (evanescent alcohol, a single marijuana cigarette) or of “enduring utility to its holder” (a bank vault filled with deeds, a “meth lab,” or a graveyard corpse); and

(4) the place to be searched—a “mere criminal forum of convenience or secure operational base.” 

Applying the above, the court then determined the likelihood that alcohol would still be found using a scientific analysis:

"Assuming that a suspect did not drink after being stopped by an officer, at least “some” evidence of alcoholic “intoxication” (defined as 0.08 BAC) should still be in his blood system four hours later because it takes at least four hours for the average person to eliminate 0.08 grams of alcohol (per one hundred milliliters of blood) at a rate of 0.02 grams of alcohol (per one hundred milliliters of blood) per hour. Put simply, it takes four hours of hourly 0.02 BAC decreases to make a BAC of 0.08 drop to zero.

The higher the level of intoxication at the time of the stop, the longer some evidence of alcoholic intoxication would remain in the blood. For example, if the average person's blood-alcohol level were twice the limit of legal intoxication, with a BAC of 0.16 at the time he were stopped, his level would be approximately 0.08 four hours later, and some level of alcohol would still be in his blood up to seven to eight hours later.FN14 But it would be exceedingly unlikely that a person who was tested some 24 hours after he ceased drinking would register any detectible level of alcohol in his blood. (This would correspond to an initial blood-alcohol content of 0.48, six times the legal limit and nearly lethal.)

The court also held that it must use the most extreme time periods when applying the stalenss doctrine:

"United States v. Button, 653 F.2d 319, 324–25 (8th Cir .1981) This case gave rise to the so-called “ Button Rule” of staleness:

"Generally when the courts are forced to make an assumption as to when transactions occurred “within” a given period, for purposes of determining probable cause, it must be assumed that the transactions took place in the most remote part of the given period.... The reason for this policy is obvious. If this were not the construction given to this phrase, stale information could be made to appear current by the mere use of “within” language. For example, if a dozen drug purchases were made in the first week of January and one wished to obtain a search warrant in the first week of March based solely on this information he would need only say that “within the last two months a dozen purchases were made”, rather than “a dozen purchases were made in the first week of January.” 

Based upon all of the above, the appellate court held that the search warrant was defective, and remanded the case with directions.

Looking for a Top DUI DWI Attorney? Visit Americas Top DUI and DWI Attorneys at or call 1-800-DIAL-DUI to find a DUI OUI DWI Attorney Lawyer Now!

No comments:

Blog Archive