State Must Obtain Warrant Before Requiring Alcohol Blood Tests at Hospital - DUI News - 4/28/2016

The Sixth District holds that when hospitals conduct blood-alcohol tests at the request of the police, and the tests are not performed for medical purposes, warrant protections still apply even when the police requested the results pursuant to R.C. 2317.022.

State v. Hepler, 2016 Ohio 2662 (6th Dist)

April 22, 2016

Hepler was involved in an auto accident and transported to a hospital.  At 6:01 am, an officer faxed a Statement Requesting Medical Records to the hospital and 24 minutes later a blood draw was obtained to test for alcohol.  The hospital later supplied the test results to the officer.

Hepler filed a motion to suppress the test results arguing that although they were obtained pursuant to R.C. 2317.02(B)(2), they were obtained without the benefit of a search warrant.  The trial court agreed with Hepler that, "the state must still obtain a search warrant to obtain private medical records of a suspect." However, it denied the motion to suppress by "finding the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule applied because Deputy 'Swoap acted in accord with R.C. 2317.02'"

The 6th District did not address specifically whether warrants are required to obtain hospital records when requests are made pursuant to R.C. 2317.02.  It reasoned that such an analysis would require a finding that the blood alcohol test was performed for medical purposes.  Rather, it held that the test results were instead obtained for the investigation and therefore were instead governed by R.C. 2317.022.  The 6th District held that, "In no circumstance is an R.C. 2317.022 request a substitute for a warrant for a blood draw for a blood-alcohol test nor is it a recognized exception to the warrant requirement."  Therefore, it granted Hepler's appeal.