Justices to hear arguments in blood draw suppression case

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Indiana Lawyer on 1/20/2020 by IL Staff

The Indiana Supreme Court will consider this week whether to grant transfer to a wrong-way-driver case focused on a post-accident blood draw.

Arguments on petition to transfer will be heard at 9 a.m. Thursday in State of Indiana v. Wesley Ryder, 18A-CR-02325.

In that case, Wesley Ryder was charged with several felonies after he allegedly drove southbound onto the northbound lanes of I-465 and crashed into another car. A responding state trooper noticed Ryder had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech at the time and asked him to take a field sobriety test, which Ryder failed.

Ryder was handcuffed and read his Miranda rights. The judge, who could not meet with the trooper until later that morning, signed a prepared probable cause affidavit and a proposed search warrant when the two met at a gas station later that morning.

Ryder was then taken to the hospital and the blood draw was performed, revealing a blood alcohol concentration of 0.11%.

Before trial, Ryder moved to suppress the results of the blood draw, arguing the collection had violated his federal and state constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure. The Marion Superior Court granted the motion to suppress, concluding the trooper had failed to file the probable cause affidavit before presenting it to the judge. The trial court also found that the blood draw test results were not admissible under the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule.

A split Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed in a memorandum decision, with the majority holding that the trial court did not err in determining the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule was inapplicable, and that the trooper did not substantially comply with the applicable statute by waiting three hours after the warrant was signed and executed to file the probable cause affidavit.

Judge Elaine Brown dissented with a separate opinion, finding that that any failure from the officer to comply with the statute was not substantial and that the good faith exception applies.

The state has petitioned the Supreme Court to accept jurisdiction.