The Supreme Court of Nevada viewed a case involving Nicole Gabrielle Cote and the State of Nevada. This is a direct appeal from a judgment of conviction of two counts of driving under the influence causing “substantial bodily harm” and two counts of “reckless driving causing substantial bodily harm to another.”
The first issue presented to the court involved giving consent for a blood draw. The defense counsel disputed that Cote did not consent to a blood draw, and so the evidence of the blood draw should be denied. Cote did not testify at the hearing, but three officers offered testimonies.
Officer Proffitt arrived at the scene of the accident and spoke with Cote. She told him at the time that she had one drink four hours earlier and she had experienced a small fender bender just prior to the accident. Proffitt testified that when he told Cote she might have to do a blood draw due to the seriousness of the accident, Cote “agreed.” Proffitt also testified that based on the information that he had at the time, he was unable to get a warrant for a blood draw and wouldn’t have sought one.
Officer Sanford was then asked to administer several roadside sobriety tests, and Cote passed all of them. There was no evidence of alcohol found in the breath test either. Cote told Sanford that she had consumed one alcoholic drink four hours before and had smoked marijuana the day before. Sanford also testified that Cote had agreed to a voluntary blood sample and signed an implied consent warning form. He discussed the right to decline the blood draw with Cote, even though the warning form doesn’t state this fact in writing.
Detective Cecil testified as well, and he had recorded his interview with Cote and stated that she had voluntarily agreed to the blood draw and was not coerced in any way. All three officers testified that that Cote did not show any signs of intoxication during the interviews, and that Cote was never under arrest.
The blood test later showed that Cote had a blood alcohol level of 0.066, and she also had marijuana metabolites in her blood. Based on the evidence presented, the district court denied the motion to deny the blood draw, and it found Cote had consented based on the circumstances.
During the jury trial, testimonies showed that Cote and the driver involved in the fender bender were involved in a heated discussion, and she drove off while weaving through four lanes of traffic. According to a witness, Cote drove into the bike or storage lane and hit another car. The car was “air-lifted up, twisted around” and hit a telephone pole, and both the driver and passenger suffered severe injuries.
A witness also stated that Cote confessed at the scene and stated that she was running from domestic violence. On appeal, Cote disputed that there was insufficient evidence to convict her, the jury’s view on proximate cause was wrong and it placed on Cote an improper burden of proof. In addition, Cote argued there was an error in denying the motion to suppress evidence, the court abused its discretion by allowing improper lay witness testimony, the court allowed illegitimate bad act evidence into trial, the prosecutor committed misconduct, the court wrongly failed to grant the State’s request to dismiss Cote’s reckless driving convictions, and that her sentence violates the Eighth Amendment.
The appeals court concluded a few things related to Cote’s issues on appeal. First, it concluded that Cote’s consent was not voluntary, and the district court failed to suppress evidence of the blood draw. Because of this, it was ordered that the judgment of the district court vacate and remand the matter to the district court for further proceedings.
Nationally recognized litigation attorney Thomas Metier practice areas include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, trucking accidents and motor vehicle accidents. He is licensed to practice in Colorado, Wyoming, the U.S. District Court–District of Colorado, and the U.S. District Court–District of Wyoming, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.