State v. Williams, 234 N.C. App. 445 (Jun. 17, 2014)

In an impaired driving case involving a fatality, the trial court properly granted the defendant’s motion to suppress blood test results. The defendant was transported an intoxilyzer room where an officer read and gave the defendant a copy of his implied consent rights. The defendant signed the implied consent rights form acknowledging that he understood his rights. After thirty minutes, the officer, a certified chemical analyst, asked the defendant to submit to a chemical analysis of his breath, but the defendant refused. The officer then requested that a blood testing kit be brought to the office. Although the officer did not re-advise the defendant of his implied consent rights for the blood test, he gave the defendant a consent form for the testing, which the defendant signed. The defendant’s blood was then drawn. Challenging the trial court’s suppression ruling, the State argued that evidence of the results of the blood test was admissible because the defendant signed a consent form for the testing. The court rejected this argument, concluding that although the State could seek to administer a blood test after the defendant refused to take a breath test, it was required, pursuant to G.S. 20-16.2(a) and G.S. 20-139.1(b5), to re-advise the defendant of his implied consent rights before requesting he take a blood test. The court also rejected the State’s argument that any statutory violation was technical and not substantial and no prejudice occurred because the defendant had been advised of his implied consent rights as to the breath test less than an hour before the blood test. It reasoned: “A failure to advise cannot be deemed a mere technical and insubstantial violation.”