The Michigan Court of Appeals has recently ruled that the warrant issued to draw a motorcycle driver’s blood after a fatal accident was invalid and as such, the results are now excluded from evidence. This stems from a case that originated approximately two years ago. A 41-year-old Brooklyn, MI man was riding with his 39-year-old ex-wife when he lost control of the motorcycle and crashed, killing his ex-wife. A warrant was issued to draw his blood, and the results showed his blood alcohol level to be .136, well above the legal limit of .08. He was then charged in Jackson County with one count of operating while intoxicated causing death, reckless driving causing death, and an operating while intoxicated third offense. He faced up to 15 years in prison due to these charges. Neither rider was wearing a helmet at the time.
Police Relied On Defective Warrant
Most often, when police seek a warrant for a blood draw when they suspect someone of driving under the influence, they list factors that lead the officer to believe that the driver was intoxicated while they were driving. Typical factors include slurring of words, inability to walk straight, the smell of alcohol on their breath etc. In this case, the only factors the officer listed were factors like speeding and recklessness. There was no mention of anything related specifically to alcohol or intoxication. Police records show that the officer failed to mention witness accounts that the driver smelled like alcohol and that a homeowner found a bottle of Fireball cinnamon whiskey in his yard near the scene of the crash. A magistrate can only go off of the information provided in a warrant request, and in this case, The Michigan Court of Appeals said that the information on the warrant request simply wasn’t enough to warrant a proper blood draw. The court stated in its opinion, “nothing in the affidavit described how the fatal motorcycle accident occurred or why the circumstances of the accident suggested intoxication,” further stating that, “the affidavit consisted merely of nonspecific, conclusory allegations of speeding and recklessness.”