Petitioner’s Blood Properly Drawn Pursuant to Statutory Dictates Following DUI-Related Accident

In a recent criminal law matter, a Superior Court of Connecticut denied a petitioner’s request for a writ of habeas corpus, unconvinced by any of his claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.

This case arose from an incident that occurred on December 24, 2007. The petitioner fled from police in his motor vehicle, and during the pursuit he struck and officer’s cruiser multiple times. Police were able to bring his car to a stop, through despite repeated exit commands, the petitioner refused to do so. Officers subdued him using a taser, then removed and placed him into the back of a cruiser. Because the petitioner continued to act erratically and vomited, police decided that he needed medical attention, so they transported him to Yale-New Haven Hospital. At the hospital, in order to perform medical tests, a doctor (treating doctor) drew some of the petitioner’s blood. Police sought and obtained a warrant for this blood so they could determine whether the petitioner’s blood alcohol content exceeded the legal limit. Indeed it did, and the results were used in the subsequent criminal case.

The petitioner was charged with operating a motor vehicle while having an elevated blood alcohol content in violation of General Statutes § 14-227a(a)(2), among other charges. At trial, the treating doctor testified that he ordered testing of the petitioner’s blood because he had been in a motor vehicle accident and taser afterward. According to the doctor, “the blood tests performed were the standard set if there was concern about neurological injury from trauma.” In addition, the officers testified that they did not play any role in ordering that the petitioner’s blood be drawn.

The petitioner was convicted on all counts, and thereafter submitted a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus. He put forth multiple claims alleging ineffective assistance of counsel, on one ground that his defense counsel did not present evidence – medical records, in particular – of the petitioner’s medical condition on the day the police chase occurred. As the Superior Court later discerned, the petitioner sought to establish that had his attorney submitted such evidence, the jury would have seen that the petitioner was not actually injured, thus negating the hospital’s basis to treat him and draw his blood.

General Statutes § 14-227a(k) dictates when a blood sample may be taken for purposes of establishing probable cause to arrest for a violation of § 14-227a. The most relevant language, as it pertains to this case, is “an operator of a motor vehicle involved in an accident who has suffered or allegedly suffered physical injury in such accident.” (Emphasis added in case.) Other Connecticut cases have found that there is no distinction between whether the accident was intentional or unintentional. In this case, the Superior Court was not persuaded by the petitioner’s argument. The evidence clearly showed that he operated a motor vehicle involved in an accident, the blood was drawn pursuant to the dictates of § 14-227a(k), and it did not matter whether the accident was intentional or unintentional. After considering and rejecting the petitioner’s other claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, the Superior Court denied his petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

When faced with a charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (a.k.a. driving under the influence) or license suspension, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.