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Judge throws out blood test results in DUI-related death

An elderly Maryland woman was crossing the street that takes her from her home to her mailbox when she was struck by a car. That car initially fled the scene, but later returned. The driver of that car was charged with what police believed was a DUI-related death.

Police gave the man four different breath tests, all of which registered .00. A blood alcohol test was taken nearly four hours after the accident. The driver contested the admission of the blood test stating that police had no probable cause to take the sample. The investigator heading up the investigation into the accident had a suspicion that the accused man was impaired. He was basing his suspicions on a comment that alcohol was smelled on the officer's breath.

After a hearing that lasted nearly seven hours, the judge decided that the results of the blood alcohol test were not admissible. The results of the test were not put on the record, even at the evidentiary hearing to exclude them. The Maryland prosecutor attempted to get the results on the record, but the judge denied the request.

The man pleaded guilty to "failing to remain at the scene of an accident resulting in death" and will serve a jail term of 18 months. He was actually sentenced to five years in prison, but as part of his plea bargain, all but 18 months of the sentence was suspended. He is eligible to participate in work release during his sentence, will be on supervised probation for three years and will do 120 hours of service to the community.

As a result, all DUI-related death charges were taken off the table even though the man admitted to some drug use in the hours and day before the accident. This case demonstrates the importance of reviewing police procedures when someone is arrested. It is important that law enforcement officials have sufficient probable cause to perform something such as a blood alcohol test. Without it, police are violating the citizen's rights.

Source: cecildaily.com, Man receives 18-month jail term for fatal pedestrian crash, Carl Hamilton, Oct. 8, 2013

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