Blank v. State

In Blank v. State, 90 P.3d 156 (Alaska 2004) the Alaska Supreme Court interpreted AS 28.35.031(g), which provides that a person who operates a motor vehicle is considered to have given consent to a chemical test of his breath, blood, and urine if he "is involved in a motor vehicle accident that causes death or serious physical injury to another person." "Serious physical injury" is defined in AS 28.90.990(a)(24) and AS 11.81.900(b)(56) as: Physical injury caused by an act performed under circumstances that create a substantial risk of death ... or physical injury that causes serious and protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of health, protracted loss or impairment of the function of a body member or organ, or that unlawfully terminates a pregnancy. The supreme court construed AS 28.35.031(g) narrowly in order to avoid constitutional problems. The court held that AS 28.35.031(g) is constitutional "in context of warrantless searches for breath or blood in accident cases involving death or serious physical injury when probable cause to search exists and the search falls within a recognized exception to the warrant requirement," such as the exigent circumstances exception. The court declined to decide whether exigent circumstances justified the warrantless breath test in Blank.