Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium


This compendium includes significant criminal cases by the U.S. Supreme Court & N.C. appellate courts, Nov. 2008 – Present. Selected 4th Circuit cases also are included.

Jessica Smith prepared case summaries Nov. 2008-June 4, 2019; later summaries are prepared by other School staff.


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E.g., 12/02/2023
E.g., 12/02/2023

In three consolidated cases the Court held that while a warrantless breath test of a motorist lawfully arrested for drunk driving is permissible as a search incident to arrest, a warrantless blood draw is not. It concluded: “Because breath tests are significantly less intrusive than blood tests and in most cases amply serve law enforcement interests, we conclude that a breath test, but not a blood test, may be administered as a search incident to a lawful arrest for drunk driving. As in all cases involving reasonable searches incident to arrest, a warrant is not needed in this situation.” Having found that the search incident to arrest doctrine does not justify the warrantless taking of a blood sample, the Court turned to the argument that blood tests are justified based on the driver’s legally implied consent to submit to them. In this respect it concluded: “motorists cannot be deemed to have consented to submit to a blood test on pain of committing a criminal offense.”

In this DWI case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to suppress intoxilyzer results. The defendant argued that the trial court improperly concluded that the officer was not required, under G.S. 20-139.1(b5), to re-advise him of his implied consent rights before administering a breath test on a second machine. The defendant did not dispute that the officer advised him of his implied consent rights before he agreed to submit to a chemical analysis of his breath; rather, he argued that because the test administered on the first intoxilyzer machine failed to produce a valid result, it was a “nullity,” and thus the officer’s subsequent request that the defendant provide another sample for testing on a different intoxilyzer machine constituted a request for a “subsequent chemical analysis” under G.S. 20-139.1(b5). Therefore, the defendant argued, the officer violated the defendant’s right under that statute to be re-advised of implied consent rights before administering the test on the second machine. The court disagreed, finding that G.S. 20-139.1(b5) requires a re-advisement of rights only when an officer requests that a person submit to a chemical analysis of blood or other bodily fluid or substance in addition to or in lieu of a chemical analysis of breath. Here, the officer’s request that the defendant provide another sample for the same chemical analysis of breath on a second intoxilyzer machine did not trigger the re-advisement requirement of G.S. 20-139.1(b5).

The trial court erred by granting the defendant’s motion to suppress breath test results from an Intoximeter EC/IR II. The trooper administered the first breath test, which returned a result of .10. When the trooper asked for a second sample, the defendant did not blow hard enough and the machine produced an “insufficient sample” result. The machine then timed out and printed out the first test result ticket. The trooper reset the machine and asked the defendant for another breath sample; the trooper did not wait before starting the second test. The next sample produced a result of .09. The sample was printed on a second result ticket. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion to suppress, concluding that the trooper did not follow the procedures outlined in N.C. Admin. Code tit. 10A, r. 41B.0322 (2009) and because he did not acquire two sequential breath samples on the same test record ticket. Following State v. White, 84 N.C. App. 111 (1987), the court held that the trial court erred by concluding that the breath samples were not sequential. With respect to the administrative code, the court held that it was not necessary for the trooper to repeat the observation period.

Following State v. White, 84 N.C. App. 111 (1987), and holding that under the pre-December 1, 2006 version of G.S. 20-139.1(b3), the trial court did not err by admitting evidence of the lesser of the defendant’s sequential, consecutive Intoxilyzer results, even though the defendant provided an invalid sample between the two tested samples.

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