final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
appeal from a non-final order the Circuit Court for
Miami-Dade County, Milton Hirsch, Judge Lower Tribunal No.
Moody, Attorney General, and Gabrielle Raemy Charest-Turken,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellant.
J. Martinez, Public Defender, and Howard K. Blumberg, Special
Assistant Public Defender, and Gabrielle McCabe and Manon
Ferdani, Certified Legal Interns, for appellee.
FERNANDEZ, LOGUE, and MILLER, JJ.
State of Florida appeals the trial court's order
suppressing evidence of Jose Quintanilla's blood alcohol
analysis garnered pursuant to a compulsory blood draw under
section 316.1933, Florida Statutes (2019). The State contends
the trial court erroneously elevated the standard of proof
required to conduct a compelled blood draw under the Fourth
Amendment and improvidently imported into the blood draw
statute an additional element of driver fault. For the
following reasons, we reverse.
before midnight on December 2, 2010, appellee, Jose
Quintanilla, was operating a chassis cab truck with an
attached cargo box, in rural, unincorporated Miami-Dade
County. While negotiating a left-hand turn at a four-way
intersection governed by a traffic control signal,
Quintanilla collided with a significantly smaller sedan. The
driver of the sedan was rendered unconscious and would later
succumb to injuries suffered in the crash. Her passenger was
ejected from the vehicle and was seriously injured.
Henry Suarez arrived first to the crash scene. He and two
other responding officers detected the strong odor of an
alcoholic beverage emanating from Quintanilla's breath.
Additionally, they noticed Quintanilla appeared unnaturally
"limber" and "fluid," and his eyes were
"bloodshot" and "watery." Hence, they
contacted Officer Mark Slimak, a twenty-one-year veteran of
the Miami-Dade Police Department specially trained in
alcohol-related investigations, to conduct a further probe.
arrived shortly thereafter and was briefed by Suarez and the
other officers on their observations regarding
Quintanilla's odor, demeanor, and appearance. He was also
informed that Quintanilla was the driver of the truck
involved in the crash. Slimak scrutinized the scene of the
accident and ascertained from paramedics on the scene the
critical nature of the injuries sustained by the occupants of
attempted to interview Quintanilla, however, a language
barrier prevented meaningful discourse. Nonetheless,
Quintanilla confirmed he was the driver. At that time,
Slimak, himself, detected the odor of an alcoholic beverage
coming from Quintanilla's breath and observed that
Quintanilla's eyes were bloodshot and watery. As
paramedics prepared to transport Quintanilla to a medical
facility for accident-related injuries, Slimak ordered the
treating paramedic to perform a warrantless, nonconsensual
blood draw on Quintanilla, pursuant to section 316.1933,
State ultimately charged Quintanilla with one count of
driving under the influence ("DUI") manslaughter,
in violation of section 316.193(3)(c)(3), Florida Statutes,
and one count of driving under the influence resulting in
serious bodily injury, in violation of section
316.193(3)(c)(2), Florida Statutes. Thereafter, Quintanilla
sought suppression of the blood alcohol test results,
contending the warrantless, compelled withdrawal of blood
violated the Fourth Amendment to the United States
Constitution and section 316.1933(1)(a), Florida Statutes.
Specifically, Quintanilla asserted Slimak lacked probable
cause to believe Quintanilla was driving under the influence
or that he caused the accident. The lower tribunal conducted
an evidentiary hearing on the merits of the suppression
hearing, Slimak testified as to Quintanilla's odor of
alcoholic beverage, unsteady gait, and bloodshot, watery
eyes. Slimak explained that he was made aware of the extent
of the injuries of those involved in the crash. He then
offered his observations regarding the scene:
[T]his particular intersection is a four-way intersection.
It's governed by a traffic light in all directions. Upon
my arrival the box truck was, the final resting place was in
a southwesterly direction, or facing south as if it was
making a left-hand-turn in the southbound direction onto 147
Avenue. The ...