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.

Read more


Can I Get Some Relief Here?

That’s what I said to my husband during the breakfast hour this morning, while I was working as a short-order cook and waitress for three rather demanding customers (our children). To his credit, he complied and asked how he could help. As a result, I not only got relief, but I got to pick the … Read more


Can I Get a Remedy? Suppression of Chemical Analyses in Implied Consent Cases for Statutory Violations

Dan Defendant is charged with and arrested for driving while impaired. He is taken to a law enforcement center for administration of a chemical analysis. At 2:00 a.m., the chemical analyst informs Dan of his implied consent rights, as set forth in G.S. 20-16.2. Dan indicates that he wishes to call a witness. Dan calls … Read more

What’s a Motion to Suppress?

There’s a new batch of opinions from the court of appeals today. One is State v. Reavis, a case that raises a question I’ve been asked several times recently in different contexts: what’s a motion to suppress, and how does it differ from a simple objection to the admission of evidence, and from a motion … Read more

Knock and Announce

The Fourth Circuit decided an interesting case yesterday. The case is United States v. Young, and the interesting part isn’t just the defendant’s nickname, “DJ Nelly Nell.” The relevant facts are as follows. The defendant was indicted on “various drug and weapons charges,” and a warrant for his arrest was issued. Officers staked out his … Read more

Gant and Herring

The Supreme Court (Washington, not Raleigh) has been exceptionally busy with criminal law matters over the last few months. As readers of this blog know, two of the blockbuster decisions this Term have been Arizona v. Gant, which severely restricted vehicle searches incident to arrest, and Herring v. United States, which held that the exclusionary … Read more


Stick to the Plan (er, Policy)

Before December 1, 2006, GS 20-16.3A set forth requirements governing impaired driving checkpoints but not other types of checking stations and roadblocks.  While non-DWI checking stations and roadblocks had to satisfy the strictures of the state and federal constitution, no specific statutory procedures governed their establishment and use.  The Motor Vehicle Driver Protection Act of … Read more

Kansas v. Ventris and the Sixth Amendment

The Supreme Court’s latest criminal law decision is Kansas v. Ventris, available here.  The basic holding is that a statement obtained in violation of a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel may be admitted for impeachment purposes, so long as the statement was voluntary. In brief, the defendant in Ventris was charged with murder and … Read more