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State of New Jersey v. David L. Franchetta

October 15, 2012

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
DAVID L. FRANCHETTA, JR., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cape May County, Municipal Appeal No. 25-09-10.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 17, 2011

Before Judges A. A. Rodriguez and Sabatino.

Defendant David L. Franchetta, Jr., appeals his conviction for driving while under the influence of a narcotic or habit-producing drug ("DWI"), N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. His impaired condition was established by toxicology tests, which had been performed after defendant had driven his car off a road and into a house and was then transported to a hospital. The tests confirmed the presence of certain prohibited drugs in defendant's blood stream and urine. Defendant argues that the test results should have been suppressed because the blood and urine samples had been forcibly extracted from him at the hospital. He further argues that the weight of the evidence was insufficient to establish his guilt. We reject these contentions and affirm.

I.

The present case represents defendant's third DWI conviction. See State v. Franchetta, 394 N.J. Super. 200 (App. Div. 2000) (sustaining this defendant's second DWI conviction, which was based upon the confirmed presence of a cocaine metabolite in his urine). His prosecution in this case arose out of a single-car accident in Middle Township on November 28, 2009.

At about 11:00 a.m. on the morning in question, two Middle Township police officers responded to a report of a motor vehicle accident by a house next to Route 47. The officers discovered that defendant had veered off of Route 47 and crashed his car into the house.

Defendant had crawled out of the car. He had glass fragments on his face and an abrasion on his nose. His eyes were bloodshot and glassy. His speech was mumbled and his responses to the officers were slow. He told the officers that he is a diabetic, and that he must have passed out because he had not taken his insulin.

Emergency medical technicians ("EMTs") soon arrived at the scene and attended to defendant. The EMTs did not permit the officers to administer any field sobriety tests. They transported defendant by ambulance to a local hospital emergency room.

While at the hospital, defendant became belligerent and thrashed around, and he resisted the paramedics' efforts to assist him. Because defendant was agitated and aggressive and had indicated he had diabetes, and had undergone a traumatic event, hospital personnel needed to determine quickly his medical condition by taking a blood test. A phlebotomist tried several times, within the course of about forty minutes, to extract a blood sample from defendant but she was unable to connect a needle to a vein. At that point, defendant was given a sedative and then an intravenous line was injected into defendant's neck, through which blood was drawn. A urine sample was also taken from him through a catheter.

Laboratory tests subsequently revealed that defendant's blood contained cocaine, as well as Alprazolam (commonly known as Xanax). Cocaine, Benzoylecgonine (a cocaine metabolite), and Oxycodone were also found in defendant's urine.

Defendant was consequently charged with a violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 in the municipal court of Middle Township. Prior to trial, he moved to suppress the drug test results. He argued that the samples had been illegally extracted from him in a forcible manner, in violation of his privacy rights under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and under Article I, paragraph 7 of the New Jersey Constitution.

After considering testimony*fn1 by the police officers, an EMT from the accident scene, hospital staff, and defendant at a hearing concerning the extractions, the municipal judge denied the suppression motion. The municipal judge found that the use of restraints to ...


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