The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled in a case that impacts the way evidence is gathered in drunk driving cases. The ruling involved Rachel Overbay, who was injured in an accident on I-80 in June of 2010.
Overbay admitted she had been drinking at an Ankeny bar before the accident, but a State Trooper was unable to give her field sobriety tests due to her injuries. The trooper went to the hospital and requested a blood sample from Overbay. He read her a standard implied consent advisory that said she could lose her driver’s license if she failed to give a blood sample.
The advisory did not however tell Overbay that the trooper could seek a urine or breath test if she refused to give blood. The blood sample found Overbay had twice the legal limit of alcohol in her system and she was charged with second offense O-W-I. She sought to have the blood sample thrown out as evidence because the advisory had not told her about the option to give a urine or breathe test.
The district and appeals court ruled the blood test was involuntary and should be suppressed. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that while the advisory slightly overstated the possible consequences of refusing to take the blood test, had Overbay declined the test, she would have been immediately presented with the same choices with respect to a urine test.
And Overbay didn’t argue that her decision process at that point would have been any different. The high court reversed the lower court decisions and sent the case back to district court where the blood test can be used.
See the complete ruling here: Overbay ruling PDF