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Aguilar v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

January 17, 2018

Juan Aguilar, Appellant,
The State of Florida, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

         An Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Lower Tribunal No. 08-23160 Miguel M. de la O, Judge.

          Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., and Jeffrey S. Weiner, Annabelle H. Nahra, and Diego Weiner, for appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Michael W. Mervine, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Before LAGOA, SALTER, and EMAS, JJ. [*]


          LAGOA, J.

         Juan Aguilar ("Aguilar") appeals his conviction and sentence for various driving under the influence ("DUI") crimes arising out of a multi-vehicle accident that resulted in the death of one person at the scene and serious bodily injury to two others. Aguilar primarily challenges the admission of the results of a blood alcohol test performed on blood samples warrantlessly obtained from him at Ryder Trauma Center following his transport there for his injuries. Because we find no error in the admission of the blood test results, we affirm as to Counts I, III, and V. We reverse, however, with respect to Counts II and IV based on the State's proper concession of a violation of the double jeopardy clause. We affirm as to all other issues raised by Aguilar.


         On Sunday, December 9, 2007, at approximately 3:00 a.m., a three-car accident occurred in the four westbound lanes of State Road 836 near the 27th Avenue exit. At approximately 3:11 a.m., Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Bobadilla ("Trooper Bobadilla") received a dispatch regarding this accident. When he arrived at the scene, Miami Dade Expressway Authority ("MDX") Road Rangers had closed all but the far-left lane in order to allow law enforcement, fire rescue units, and tow trucks to safely operate and clear the accident scene. A board with an arrow pointing left was set up to notify drivers of the lane closures.

         After investigating the scene, Trooper Bobadilla returned to his vehicle, which had its emergency lights activated. At the same time, at approximately 4:22 a.m., an MDX Road Ranger adjusting traffic cones observed a black Ford Mustang, driven by Aguilar, and another car racing at a high rate of speed westbound into the single, open left lane near the scene of the original accident. Within seconds, Trooper Bobadilla heard screeching tires and witnessed Aguilar losing control of his Mustang, which careened into the original accident scene, striking multiple cars and persons-one who died almost instantly, two who suffered serious bodily injuries, and one who suffered minor injuries. After the collision, Trooper Bobadilla walked the scene and observed skid marks consistent with the driving pattern of Aguilar's Mustang that were not present prior to the second accident.

         Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Christopher Adkinson ("Trooper Adkinson") made contact with Aguilar at the scene of the accident, testifying that Aguilar "was somewhat unresponsive, incoherent, " had "blood shot watery eyes, " "slurred speech, " and "had odor of alcohol" coming from his person and his vehicle. Trooper Adkinson gathered identification information from Aguilar, who was subsequently extracted from his Mustang by a fire rescue unit and transported to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital with serious injuries, including a collapsed lung. Medical personnel at Ryder Trauma Center induced Aguilar into a coma and intubated him shortly after his arrival.

         As there were "significant indicators" that Aguilar was displaying an "alcohol related impairment, " Trooper Adkinson responded to Ryder Trauma Center at approximately 5:09 a.m., in order to get a "blood draw." Trooper Adkinson testified no effort was made to get a warrant because of "time restraints, " including waiting for contact with the primary traffic homicide investigator who would obtain the warrant, and traveling to the hospital. At Ryder Trauma Center, Trooper Adkinson again smelled an odor of alcohol emanating from Aguilar's face, which was "flushed, " and noticed Aguilar's "bloodshot and watery" eyes. Soon thereafter, Trooper Adkinson directed a nurse to obtain a nonconsensual blood sample from Aguilar. The blood sample, taken at 5:42 a.m., showed that Aguilar's blood alcohol level was 0.112.

         Aguilar was arrested and charged with DUI Manslaughter (Count I), two counts of DUI causing serious bodily injury (Counts III, IV), and two counts of DUI with person or property damage (Counts II, V). Aguilar filed several motions to suppress, including one to suppress the blood draw test results due to a lack of probable cause and lack of a warrant.

         On May 15, 2013, the trial court heard evidence on the suppression motions. In addition to Trooper Adkinson's testimony, the State introduced testimony that to obtain a warrant at the time, it would have taken at least four hours, due to the information and evidence gathering, the writing of the affidavit, sending that affidavit to the Assistant State Attorney for verifying probable cause, and then driving to the emergency judge's house. The State argued that because of the natural metabolization of alcohol in the bloodstream, there were time constraints creating an exigent circumstance to justify an exception to the warrant ...

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