Petition for Special Action from the Superior Court in
Maricopa County No. CR2016-111114-001 The Honorable
Annielaurie Van Wie, Judge Pro Tem
Alumni Law Group, Phoenix By Kelly J. Flood, Lawrence S.
Koplow Counsel for Petitioner
Maricopa County Attorney's Office, Phoenix By Amanda M.
Parker, Andrea L. Kever Counsel for Real Party in Interest
Peter B. Swann delivered the opinion of the court, in which
Presiding Judge Diane M. Johnsen and Judge Kent E. Cattani
Oswaldo Diaz, Jr., who faces prosecution for aggravated
driving under the influence ("DUI"), seeks
special-action relief from the superior court's refusal
to suppress blood evidence obtained under A.R.S. §
28-1388(E)'s "medical-draw exception" to the
Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement.
We accept jurisdiction and grant relief. Our supreme
court's additions to § 28-1388(E)'s express
requirements make clear that the medical-draw exception for
seizure of blood samples requires a showing of exigent
circumstances. And it is well-established that this showing
must demonstrate an imminent risk of destruction of
blood-alcohol evidence beyond that posed by the natural
evanescence of alcohol in the bloodstream - a circumstance
that will rarely be present when the state seeks to effect a
warrantless seizure of an already-preserved blood sample.
Here, no exigent circumstances were present, and the test
results from the improperly seized blood sample therefore
must be suppressed.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On March 7, 2016, at approximately 6:42 p.m., a witness
discovered a vehicle crashed into a business's entry
gate, with the engine still running. Diaz, the driver, was
the vehicle's sole occupant. The witness saw Diaz turn
off the engine and slump over the steering wheel.
Fire department personnel extracted Diaz and, finding him
unresponsive with no visible trauma, placed him in an
ambulance for transport to a hospital. Diaz was still
unresponsive when he arrived at the hospital, and medical
imaging revealed no trauma. Medical personnel determined that
he was stable, but intubated him and placed him on a
breathing machine while they worked to determine the cause of
his unresponsive state and decide how to treat him. Hospital
personnel also drew blood for medical purposes, and stored it
securely. A nurse noticed the odor of alcohol on Diaz's
breath and person.
Police were advised of all the foregoing, and of the fact
that medical personnel had drawn blood from Diaz for medical
purposes. Without attempting to obtain a warrant, a police
officer took custody of the blood at approximately 7:38 p.m.
The state eventually tested the blood for its alcohol
content, and thereafter charged Diaz with aggravated DUI
under A.R.S. §§ 28-1381 and -1383. Diaz seeks
special-action relief from the superior court's denial of
his motions seeking suppression of the blood evidence.
We accept special-action jurisdiction because Diaz's
petition presents a purely legal issue of statewide
importance that is likely to recur. Vo v. ...