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The appeals court has upheld the decision of a lower court judge who allowed hospital blood samples to be used in an OUI trial to establish the defendant’s blood-alcohol level.

Police encountered the defendant after she was involved in an auto accident. Despite having blood on her shirt and around her mouth, the defendant told police that she did not want medical treatment.

Ignoring her request, the police had the woman examined by an EMT and then transported to the hospital.

While at the hospital, a nurse took a sample of the woman’s blood. The sample, according to hospital records, was “for medical purposes only.”

At trial, prosecutors sought to present the results of the blood test which showed alcohol present in the woman’s blood stream.

The defendant filed a motion to suppress the blood sample from being used at trial.

In her motion, the defendant argued that she was taken to the hospital against her choice and, consequently, the drawing of her blood violated her Fourth Amendment right against unlawful search and seize.

Both the trial judge and the appeals court rejected this argument.

According to the appeals court:

The Fourth Amendment, and the accompanying rule of exclusion, apply only to government action. Evidence discovered and seized by private parties is admissible without regard to the methods used, unless State officials have instigated or participated in the search…Whether evidence was seized as a result of State action depends on whether the police induced or directed the private party to provide the evidence and whether the private party acted with the intent to discover evidence on behalf of the police.

Applying this rule to the present case, the court concluded:

Here, the judge found that the medical staff at the hospital drew the defendant’s blood for medical purposes without any direction from police. Even assuming that the judge was required to credit the affidavits presented by the defendant, as she contends, they were not adequate to show that the police asked or encouraged the medical staff to draw blood, or that the medical staff acted for any investigatory purpose. In short, they do not establish that the judge’s findings were clearly erroneous.

The opinion, in its entirety, is attached here.