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Name: People v. Jones
Case #: A140054
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 11/26/2014

Suppression of evidence resulting from DUI suspect’s warrantless blood draw was not required under Missouri v. McNeely (2013) ___ U.S. ___ [133 S.Ct. 1552] because officers reasonably relied on binding judicial precedent that permitted the blood draw. Jones, who was on Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS), crashed his car into another motorist then fled the scene. When officers arrived, they spotted Jones and arrested him for DUI. Jones refused to give blood or take a breath test. Without securing a warrant, officers had a phlebotomist take his blood anyway, which indicated he had a blood alcohol content over three times the legal limit. The trial court denied Jones’s motion to suppress the evidence from the blood draw. Jones renewed his motion after the United States Supreme Court decided Missouri v. McNeely. The trial court denied Jones’s renewed motion and he pled no contest to a DUI offense and leaving the scene of an accident. On appeal, he challenged the denial of his motion to suppress. Held: Affirmed. McNeely held that the Fourth Amendment requires police officers to obtain a warrant before a blood sample can be drawn if the officers can reasonably do so without undermining the efficacy of the search. Here, there was no evidence of any case specific exigent circumstances. Despite this, McNeely did not provide a basis for suppressing evidence from Jones’s blood draw because the officers who drew his blood without a warrant did so in good-faith reliance on then-existing California precedent, which held that a suspect’s dissipating blood-alcohol level provided a per se exigent circumstance justifying a warrantless search. (See Davis v. United States (2011) 564 U.S. ___ [131 S.Ct. 2419] [recognizing a good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule].)

Warrantless blood draw from a DUI suspect with a search and seizure condition of PRCS does not violate the Fourth Amendment. At the time of his blood draw, Jones was subject to search and seizure without consent as a condition of PRCS. (See Pen. Code, § 3453, subd. (f).) Prior to this case, no published appellate decisions had addressed whether a warrantless blood draw falls within the scope of a search-and-seizure condition of parole, probation, or PRCS. Jones argued that a blood draw was outside the scope of the condition because of its intrusiveness. The Court of Appeal disagreed, reasoning that blood draws are not so intrusive as to make the search unreasonable because they are commonplace in society and are so routine that “every California driver implicitly consents [to blood draws] as a condition of operating a motor vehicle in this state.” The reasonableness of any bodily intrusions is considered in the context of an individual’s legitimate privacy expectations, and Jones, who was on PRCS with a search condition, did not have an expectation of privacy society is prepared to recognize as legitimate.