Failing to advise a defendant of his implied consent rights requires suppression of the test results . . . except when it doesn’t

In opinions spanning four decades, North Carolina’s appellate courts have suppressed chemical analysis results in impaired driving cases based on statutory violations related to their administration. When the violation consists of the State’s failure to advise a defendant of her implied consent rights, the appellate courts’ jurisprudence has been straightforward and consistent: The results of an implied consent test carried out without the defendant having first been advised of her implied consent rights are inadmissible. Indeed, the court of appeals reaffirmed that principle last June in State v. Williams, __ N.C. App. ___, 759 S.E.2d 350 (2014), holding that the State’s failure to re-advise the defendant of his implied consent rights before conducting a blood test under the implied consent statutes required suppression of the test results. A court of appeals opinion issued in the waning hours of 2014 indicates, however, that the rule is subject to at least one exception.

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Beyond Legislative Solutions to Melendez-Diaz

My recent paper (here) on the use of remote testimony in criminal cases involving forensic analysts was written in part because of the flood of interest in legislative solutions to Melendez-Diaz. That case held that forensic reports are testimonial and subject to the new Crawford confrontation clause analysis. One slam dunk solution to the Melendez-Diaz … Read more


Avoiding Ignition Interlock by Pleading Guilty

As state crime lab backlogs increase, it takes longer and longer for blood drawn in connection with impaired driving cases to be tested. In some of these cases, the State may opt to proceed to trial without the results.  And sometimes defendants are eager to plead guilty before such blood is tested. A defendant who … Read more