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DUI Manslaughter Motion to Suppress Statements Should Have been granted. Conviction reversed

Posted by John P. Rutkowski | Apr 09, 2020 | 0 Comments

DUI Manslaughter -- Vehicular homicide -- Evidence -- Statements of defendant -- Physician-patient privilege -- It was error to deny the defendant's motion to suppress incriminating statements she made during interrogation where she unequivocally invoked her right to remain silent at three separate points before commencement of interrogation. The error was not harmless as to DUI offenses; Because evidence at trial overlapped to some extent as to all charges, the error was also not harmless as to non-DUI related offenses. While the trial court correctly excluded defendant's physician's testimony regarding her diagnoses, trial court improperly engaged in a relevance analysis which is an erroneous standard for a privilege objection. The physician's permitted testimony fell within privilege as it encompassed physician's treatment of defendant, drugs that were prescribed, advice offered in the course of treatment, and dosage information. The Physician-patient privilege applies to records made for purposes of diagnosis or treatment, and that includes the drugs prescribed. There is no statutory exception to the privilege applied. The defendant did not place her mental or emotional condition at issue, but made issue of the timing of her ingestion of the intoxicants. Further, defendant did not waive privilege by providing purportedly false information regarding communications and treatment to the officer after arrest. Furthermore, defendant re-invoked privilege at trial and anything not already disclosed was not subject to being admitted. The trial court erred in finding that privilege did not apply because state had already admitted evidence that defendant's blood contained prescribed medications and because evidence was being used for rebuttal purposes. Double jeopardy. Should the defendant be convicted on retrial for both DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide, the trial court should not enter judgments of conviction on both. Reversed and Remanded. 

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About the Author

John P. Rutkowski

Mr. Rutkowski has been practicing law for the past twenty-five years. Prior to going to law school Mr. Rutkowski served as a deputy sheriff before retiring to attend law school. Upon graduating law school Mr. Rutkowski served as a prosecutor in Florida before going in to private practice and representing clients in three states.


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John P. Rutkowski, Attorney at Law, firm represents clients in the area of driving under the influence, boating under the influence, Criminal & Civil Traffic Offenses. Contact me today for a free telephone consultation.