Defendant Has Been Injured: Police Blood Samples

When the police respond to the scene of a motor vehicle accident, one of their primary responsibilities is to provide immediate care and seek emergency medical treatment for those who have been injured. During the course of their investigation, the police may develop evidence that leads them to believe that one or more of the operators of the motor vehicles involved in the accident may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If the level of belief rises to probable cause, the police may arrest the operator for a violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a). However, due to injuries sustained in the accident, the defendant may require immediate medical treatment at a hospital or other emergency medical facility. This fact prevents the police from having the defendant take a breath test within a reasonable period of time after operating the vehicle. Thus, when confronted with this situation, the police may request the attending medical staff to extract samples of the defendant’s blood for purposes of determining the blood alcohol concentration (BAC).