Person Who Drew Blood Sample Must Testify – State v. Renshaw

One of the conditions of admissibility for the results of the analysis of a blood sample in a drunk driving case is that the sample was taken from the body of the defendant in a medically acceptable manner. Under N.J.S.A. 2A:62A-11, a person who draws a blood sample at the request of the police in a drunk driving case need not appear in court to personally testify at trial. Rather, that person may submit a certificate under oath, indicating that the sample was properly taken.

Today’s decision by the Appellate Division in State v. Renshaw invalidates this statutory procedure based upon confrontation clause considerations required under Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004). The Appellate Division ruled that the declarations made in the certificate are “testimonial” within the meaning of Crawford, and as such, are not admissible at trial in the absence of consent to the certificate’s use by the defendant. Based upon the foregoing, it appears that medical personnel who extract blood samples at the request of the police will be required to personally appear at trial and be subject to cross examination in future DWI blood cases.

Download a copy of State v. Renshaw.

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