State v. Dahlquist, 231 N.C. App. 100 (Dec. 3, 2013)

In this DWI case, the trial court properly denied the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained from blood samples taken at a hospital without a search warrant where probable cause and exigent circumstances supported the warrantless blood draw. Noting the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Missouri v. McNeely (the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream does not constitute an exigency in every case sufficient to justify conducting a blood test without a warrant), the court found that the totality of the circumstances supported the warrantless blood draw. Specifically, when the defendant pulled up to a checkpoint, an officer noticed the odor of alcohol and the defendant admitted to drinking five beers. After the defendant failed field sobriety tests, he refused to take an intoxilyzer test. The officer then took the defendant to the hospital to have a blood sample taken without first obtaining a search warrant. The officer did this because it would have taken 4-5 hours to get the sample if he first had to travel to a magistrate for a warrant. The court noted however that the “’video transmission’ option that has been allowed by G.S. 15A-245(a)(3) [for communicating with a magistrate] . . . is a method that should be considered by arresting officers in cases such as this where the technology is available.” It also advised: “[W]e believe the better practice in such cases might be for an arresting officer, where practical, to call the hospital and the [magistrate’s office] to obtain information regarding the wait times on that specific night, rather than relying on previous experiences.”