The driver of the other vehicle, Margaret Stone, testified that she suddenly observed Ronald Holloman‘s vehicle approaching her in her lane of travel and that, despite efforts to swerve out of his path, she was unable to avoid a violent collision that injured her, seriously injured Holloman, and caused the death of Stone’s young friend, Megann Williams.
The State presented evidence tending to show that Holloman was traveling at a high rate of speed and that his vehicle, in the moments prior to impact, was weaving on and off the roadway. Additionally, the State presented testimony from a woman acquainted with Holloman who testified to having observed him at a convenience store less than two hours prior to the accident who recalled observing Holloman behaving in a manner she thought unusual and which she described as “hyper.”
Officers investigating the accident testified that physical evidence at the scene indicated that Holloman’s vehicle had rolled over successive times after impact, that the trunk lid had been sprung open, and that there was a collection of debris in the path followed by the vehicle that had the appearance of being scattered from the vehicle as it rolled off the roadway. The officers testified that the debris field contained empty beer cans, packages of syringes, and bottles containing unidentified liquids and residue.
Upon Holloman’s arrival at the hospital after the accident, a blood sample was drawn and a urine sample taken and tested for the presence of alcohol and narcotic drugs. The tests revealed no alcohol, but the testing did reveal the presence of cocaine and methamphetamine in Holloman’s system.
Holloman was convicted of vehicular homicide and sentenced to 20 years. On appeal, he argued the warrantless draw of his blood was illegal. MCOA affirmed.
Holloman argues that the trial court erred in its ruling regarding his pre-trial motion to exclude any evidence relating to testing of blood and urine samples drawn from his person in the aftermath of the accident.
MSC said in Sanders that a warrantless search is permissible in certain exigent circumstances if it can be shown that grounds existed to conduct the search that, had time permitted, would have reasonably satisfied a disinterested magistrate that a warrant should properly issue.
The trial court in this case heard evidence from investigating officers that, in their experience, a vehicle traveling as Holloman’s did after impact normally leaves an observable field of debris in its path. The officers further testified that they observed the presence of empty beer bottles and materials that could properly be classified as drug paraphernalia in the debris field that would have been produced from Holloman’s vehicle.
This court is satisfied that exigent circumstances existed that would negate the requirement for seeking a formal warrant to draw the fluid samples; these circumstances including the fact that there were a limited number of investigating officers working a major vehicle accident that involved serious injuries to the two drivers and a fatality to one passenger and the fact that drug and alcohol content in a person’s system can dissipate over the period of any delays incurred in obtaining and serving the warrant.