Henry Ruggs’s lawyers want blood-alcohol evidence excluded from prosecution

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Former Raiders receiver Henry Ruggs had an illegally high concentration of alcohol in his blood when he smashed his Corvette at 156 mph into another car last year, killing the young woman driving it. Ruggs, facing years behind bars, is arguing through his lawyers that the blood sample used to confirm that he was legally intoxicated should be excluded from the trial of the charges pending against him.

Via the Associated Press, Ruggs’s lawyers contend that police lacked a basis for having a judge authorize a warrant to obtain blood from Ruggs without his consent.

True probable cause did not exist,” attorneys David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld argued in a filing submitted last month. “The mere fact of Mr. Ruggs’s involvement in a fatal vehicle collision does not, in itself, give rise to probable cause to believe he was driving under the influence of alcohol.”

Because Ruggs was hospitalized, he did not undergo a field sobriety test to determine potential impairment. Per the paperwork filed by Ruggs’s lawyers, a police officer asked his supervisor what to do. The supervisor said that “driving behavior and death alone is going to get you a warrant all day.”

A hearing will be held next month on the issue. A preliminary hearing in the case was moved from the coming week to September, due to the challenge to the securing of the blood sample.

The issue underscores the difference between factual guilt and legal guilt. Ultimately, the prosecution must present sufficient evidence to prove legal guilt, in a manner that respects all rights of the accused. Even if Ruggs was impermissibly under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash, his rights can’t be trampled in an effort to prove it.

Still, what’s law enforcement supposed to do when a driver is injured in the crash and in need of medical care? Conduct a sobriety test before letting him get in the ambulance?

There has to be a way to balance the rights of the driver with the rights of the victim. Especially where, as in this case, Ruggs’s lawyers don’t seem to be challenging the accuracy of the test result.

The mere existence of the argument shows that anything and everything will be fair game when it comes to proving that Ruggs is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of all elements of the charges against him — including a potential defense based on the possible existence of reasonable doubt as to whether Ruggs or his girlfriend was driving the car. Rumors have lingered for months that, eventually, Ruggs potentially will contest that point. If he’ll fight the question of whether BAC evidence that points squarely to guilty should be rejected, any reasonably plausible argument is on the table.

71 responses to “Henry Ruggs’s lawyers want blood-alcohol evidence excluded from prosecution

  1. In NY even if you’re done cold sober you get a blood test in an accident with injuries.

  2. In NY even if you’re stone cold sober you get a blood test in an accident with injuries.

  3. Lawyers are going to make sure they get every penny possible from this guy. Less to go to the victims family in a civil case. Don’t know who’s the worse in this matter.

  4. A judge authorized the warrant, it’s not like they took the blood without a warrant. If this works this will show that there’s two levels of justice in this country, one system for those with money and one for those without.

  5. another example of having a money and a good lawyer. the color of justice is green.

  6. I am a raiders fan but this is disgusting. No probable cause to check his blood? There was a woman screaming as she burned alive. Ruggs should be in jail right now.

  7. I don’t know how lawyers can live with themselves let alone sleep at night when they do stuff like this.

    A woman is dead because this slimeball did something not only illegal, but highly irresponsible.

    Any half decent judge will laugh at the defense and boot them out of his courtroom.

  8. 100% believe that everyone deserves legal representation, but this defense lawyer trying everything they can to get this guy off on some BS technicality is reprehensible. Ruggs was driving the car intoxicated and at an excessive rate of speed and due to his actions a young woman lost her life. Now the lawyer doing everything he can to manufacture an iota of doubt to exonerate this entitled PoC is disgusting. There is a reason lawyers rank right up there with used car salesmen and telemarketers as scum of the earth.

  9. As a commercial driver we are required to submit to a blood draw even if it’s just injury not death and both Indiana And South Carolina where I live now require a chemical test in any crash that results in death no matter what

  10. This is a miserable tragedy and Henry Ruggs should be held accountable based on legally admissible evidence. As alarming as it might sound. Only legal admissible evidence can be used to get a conviction and, in order to secure a search warrant for a blood draw, the police are required to present an affidavit setting forth probable cause for the search. In most jurisdictions, a fatality arising from an automobile crash does not provide probable cause to get a blood draw unless there is additional evidence suggesting that some form of intoxication was involved with the driving. Without knowing what is in the affidavit, it is impossible to determine if the presiding judge or magistrate made the decision to authorize with sufficient evidence. As outsiders, we can only hope that the judge/magistrate had sufficient grounds and that the blood results will not be suppressed. Generally speaking, such authorizations are not made lightly.

  11. The wheels of justice is smeared with victims blood every time. I can only hope he losses EVERY MOTION, is found guilty of the charges given, and starts paying his debt to society AND the family.

  12. Why does anyone need a car that can go 156 MPH? Congress needs to ban high (capacity) speed auto mobiles.

  13. I would never want to make a living defending people like Henry Ruggs. The woman and her dog died in a horrible manner because of his stupidity. I hope that the motion is denied.

  14. This proves another flaw in our legal system. The court wants people to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – UNLESS an attorney wants something important thrown out.

  15. Ruggs deserves the same fate as the woman he murdered when he got behind the wheel of a car drunk… PERIOD!!!

  16. Skoliosis Sufferer says:
    June 12, 2022 at 4:38 pm
    A judge authorized the warrant, it’s not like they took the blood without a warrant. If this works this will show that there’s two levels of justice in this country, one system for those with money and one for those without.
    ___________

    Judicial approval of a warrant does not necessarily mean that the warrant was proper. The issuing judge can only go on what the police present. If that presented information is incorrect the warrant may be insufficient.

    Money has nothing to do with it in this situation. The greenest of public defenders would know if a fatality alone is insufficient in Nevada for a warrant to draw blood.

  17. He’s even going to try to get his girlfriend to agree that she was driving instead of him? I can imagine that conversation – “Honey, please do me just this one favor, and I promise to wait for you when you get out of jail in 40 years.”

  18. There sure are a lot of people here in favor of the government forcing someone to submit to the bodily invasion of a blood draw. I’ll bet that most of those same people were loudest complainers about alleged vaccine mandates.

  19. gibson45 says:
    June 12, 2022 at 5:58 pm
    There sure are a lot of people here in favor of the government forcing someone to submit to the bodily invasion of a blood draw. I’ll bet that most of those same people were loudest complainers about alleged vaccine mandates.
    ——————————————————————————————-
    Taking a small amount of blood out of the body does the body no harm and shows that the defendant willingly put others in danger. Requiring that you submit to having something injected into your body that cause myocarditis in a significant portion of the people who get it (per the CDC) is a whole different matter.

  20. If I was defending a person accused of killing someone while driving drunk I’d want the blood alcohol evidence thrown out too. Pesky evidence is the bane of every clearly guilty defendant’s lawyer.

  21. gibson45 says:
    June 12, 2022 at 5:58 pm
    There sure are a lot of people here in favor of the government forcing someone to submit to the bodily invasion of a blood draw. I’ll bet that most of those same people were loudest complainers about alleged vaccine mandates.

    ————–
    You’re equating a personal choice to get a vaccine to a case involving someone’s death at the hands of a speeding drunk driver? That’s pathetic.

  22. Do the right thing, Ruggs. Plead guilty and save the parents of the girl you killed the pain of going thru a trial where you high priced snake will try every trick in the book to get you off. You were drunks as hell, and driving at an unsafe speed, even for a sober person. You did it, plain and simple. Now, do the right thing.

  23. Of course they asked that. This is just a good lawyer doing his job. Just like it’s then the judge’s job to rule on the request.

  24. This clown is a poster child for why drunk drivers should be executed should they kill someone in an accident while under the influence.

  25. I RARELY agree with anyone here [not]… Everyone deserves a good LAWYER even in a DUI case. laserwizard2021 called him clown. I disagree with everything else laserwizard2021 said after THAT and laserwizard2021, hereby is fined, 100k… I want a gift card. Seriously, I really don’t see why the US SENATE, needing 67, I mean 60 votes to avoid debate on a DRUNK NFL PLAYER speeding and killing an innocent driver and her sweet puppy… and the defense is maybe Ruggs was not the driver? It makes me SICK to talk about this because I remember ted kennedy chappaquiddick.

  26. nunya says:
    June 12, 2022 at 7:17 pm
    gibson45 says:
    June 12, 2022 at 5:58 pm
    There sure are a lot of people here in favor of the government forcing someone to submit to the bodily invasion of a blood draw. I’ll bet that most of those same people were loudest complainers about alleged vaccine mandates.

    ————–
    You’re equating a personal choice to get a vaccine to a case involving someone’s death at the hands of a speeding drunk driver? That’s pathetic.
    ________________

    I am comparing the differing reactions to the same invasion your personal body, sticking a needle into it. One can argue that forcibly withdrawing your very life blood is the most heinous of such invasions and should be done under the strictest of safeguards

    The police should have requested that the hospital retain a blood sample until the warrant for certain could properly presented and approved. No doubt many samples were taken in the first hour of treatment. Any judge would approve the holding of an already drawn sample.

  27. liberalsruineverything says:
    June 12, 2022 at 8:14 pm
    I RARELY agree with anyone here [not]… Everyone deserves a good LAWYER even in a DUI case. laserwizard2021 called him clown. I disagree with everything else laserwizard2021 said after THAT and laserwizard2021, hereby is fined, 100k… I want a gift card. Seriously, I really don’t see why the US SENATE, needing 67, I mean 60 votes to avoid debate on a DRUNK NFL PLAYER speeding and killing an innocent driver and her sweet puppy… and the defense is maybe Ruggs was not the driver? It makes me SICK to talk about this because I remember ted kennedy chappaquiddick.
    _____________

    I’m going to go ahead and close the competition on Sunday by declaring this the comment of the week.

  28. You would think as a upstanding citizen that Ruggs would just do his time and except the consequences for taking 2 lives and ruining his own. Instead he’s going to hide behind his shady attorneys and drag this out which makes it 10x worse for the victims. He’s a horrible human being and this just shows he’s doubling down on that.

  29. That’s what a good lawyer is supposed to do. I don’t think Ruggs is going to walk away from this, but the lawyer is supposed to try to win the case.

  30. If no one got hurt? Sure, use every technicality there is to defend yourself and count yourself lucky you get another chance to do better next time without having done real harm.

    But he killed someone. He murdered a woman and her dog through his choices.

    Take your punishment. You’re young enough that you will still have a lot of your life when your sentence is over, unlike the woman you killed. Take your punishment.

  31. If my kid was killed by a driver going 156 MPH, I wouldn’t feel any better if the driver was sober. I understand the politics of drunk driving, but sober reckless drivers should be dealt with severely, too. If you kill someone while being careless, they’re just as dead regardless of what you may or may nor have consumed.

  32. A young lady is dead from this and I’m sick of the justice system seemingly providing little justice. Ruggs made a dumb decision but someone else’s life is over and countless other innocent members of her family are suffering. Ruggs deserves to sit in prison. Hopefully this time our courts get this right.

  33. There were a number of NFL pundits who initially felt sympathy for Ruggs. I wonder if they still feel the same. Ruggs is a bum.

  34. By all accounts prior to this tragedy, Henry Ruggs was a humble, hard working guy who never got into any trouble and was well liked by his coaches and peers. He overcame an impoverished background, and by dint of his extraordinary athletic gifts he bucked the odds and got drafted to be a NFL player. He left the highly structured confines of the Alabama football program and after a life in poverty gets dropped in Las Vegas, of all places, with no structure and millions of dollars and idle time at his disposal. He then made a terrible, indefensible choice that ruined his life and robbed a 23 year old girl of hers, for nothing more than being in the wrong place at the most inoppurtune time. A young woman and her dog BURNED ALIVE and died in the most horrific way possible. For that, no leniency can be given. This is a perfect example of how one decision changed the course of so many people’s lives. There is nothing that he can do to remotely right the wrong he has done. The only course of action is for him to plead guilty, spend the rest of his natural life behind bars and for his family to receive all of the money he earned from the Raiders. This is just such a sad, sad tragedy. A $20 Uber could have prevented all this.

  35. Can’t they just ask him if and how much he was drinking prior him driving that night? I would assume he’d have to answer that question. Wasn’t there video of him drinking somewhere prior to the crash that has been released already? Either way he was driving 156 mph being drunk obviously makes it worse, but he was beyond reckless regardless. I seriously doubt the absence of his blood level is going to get him off the hook. I at least hope not.

  36. The facts speak for themselves. This is a tragedy for all. Yet can you imagine Ruggs refusing to admit he was driving so he can get off on a technicality? Refusing to take responsibility also speaks for itself. An innocent woman was killed by a law breaking driver. Whether he was drinking or not doesn’t change that fact.

  37. If the official statement to the judge issuing the warrant included language that they could “smell alcohol,” or that his speech or other behaviors indicated that he was under the influence, there isn’t a problem. Without those indicators on the record this horrific moron’s lawyers may win their point. That would be terrible in every way, but unfortunately not unlikely given the way the law reads.
    The judge that will hear the case may still be able to go beyond sentencing guidlines due to the death of the young woman and Ruggs’ apparent lack of remorse.

  38. I thought it was routine when pulled over under any circumstance that if the smell of alcohol was noticed you had to submit to an BAC test or lose your license for a year.
    What does the police report say about the statements taken from ruggs and the GF ? That report should be available by now.

  39. I hope they throw the book at him. But, as a prosecutor, I can tell you that the exact same argument is made in hundreds of cases in the U.S. every day. It’s just a part of the process, and no defense lawyer worth his salt would avoid challenging the blood sample. Ruggs being rich and famous doesn’t play any part in it.

    The supervisor was wrong about one thing, though: the driving plus a smell of liquor is what gets you a warrant every time. When it comes to search and seizure law, the life or death of the victim is, sadly, irrelevant. It’s all about the driver and his rights.

  40. kevines255 says:
    June 12, 2022 at 8:37 pm
    So his defense is he’s a moron, not a drunk driver?

    ———————————————
    There is a lot of evidence to support either argument, or both.

  41. This reminds me of the Donte’ Stallworth case. He killed someone while drunk driving did 30-days in jail, and returned to the field for another 3 years. I wonder if Ruggs has the same lawyer.

  42. I would say there is probable cause anytime soneone crashes a car at 156 mph into someone and kills them.

  43. Ruggs lawyers just doing their (miserable) job. Even if they win the motion it won’t matter. Driving the speed he was is enough to get convicted even if he wasn’t intoxicated.

  44. This motion will fall flats. This is an easy one to decide and it will take the court about 2 seconds to uphold the warrant. But the defense lawyer (who bills by the hour) will get paid for his time putting together a ridiculous motion that will annoy the court. He’s not serving his client well here.

  45. If cops, prosecutors, judges, juries and defense lawyers all do their jobs properly, guilty people get punished and innocent people don’t. Cops did their job and went to a judge for a warrant. Judge did his job and saw a fatality and excessive speed and issued one. Defense attorneys are doing their job challenging everything. Ruggs is going to pay the price. My guess is in a few months, he’ll plead guilty to something and then the deceased’s family will take everything he still owns. As they should.

  46. I can only hope that justice is served here. This is an open and shut case really. please let him get a very long jail sentence and no plea deals whatsoever.

  47. “The supervisor said that “driving behavior and death alone is going to get you a warrant all day.””

    Good enough for me.

  48. 156 MPH in the desert with no one around and the only life that can be lost is his own then I MAY excuse his idiocy. In a city? Never.

    The speed of the crash is sufficient to question his state of mind and decision-making. Thus its fair to question his sobriety. Reasonable cause exists.

  49. gibson45 says:
    June 12, 2022 at 5:58 pm
    There sure are a lot of people here in favor of the government forcing someone to submit to the bodily invasion of a blood draw. I’ll bet that most of those same people were loudest complainers about alleged vaccine mandates.

    _________________________________________________________________

    Ruggs plowed into a girl and her dog at 156 mph, minding their own business, waiting for the light to change. They were sitting ducks. The LEAST he should have to do in the aftermath is have his BAC checked. He should just plead guilty already. He’s put this poor family through hell as it is.

  50. SparkyGump says:
    June 12, 2022 at 7:03 pm
    He deserves the same fate as his victims

    ———

    He deserves far worse

  51. Nevada Revised Statute 484c.160:
    NRS 484C.160  Implied consent to evidentiary test; exemption from blood test; choice of test; when blood test may be requested; when other tests may be used; reasonable force authorized to obtain test in certain circumstances; notification of parent, guardian or custodian of minor requested to submit to test.

    1.  Except as otherwise provided in subsections 4 and 5, any person who drives or is in actual physical control of a vehicle on a highway or on premises to which the public has access shall be deemed to have given his or her consent to an evidentiary test of his or her blood, urine, breath or other bodily substance to determine the concentration of alcohol in his or her blood or breath or to determine whether a controlled substance, chemical, poison, organic solvent or another prohibited substance is present, if such a test is administered at the request of a police officer having reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be tested was: . . .

  52. “A judge authorized the warrant, it’s not like they took the blood without a warrant. If this works this will show that there’s two levels of justice in this country, one system for those with money and one for those without.” The rich can hire the best expensive lawyers who use every trick the book to free their guilty clients,(OJ,trump etc}while the rest of us must use common lawyers.

  53. What to much attention for this criminal. This kid deserves to suffer the full extent of the law. no excuses.

  54. As a MA Native and Cop myelf in the chicago area where my wife is from, and former US Navy Submariner stationed in Hawai’i for 8 years, I have a pretty good background as it relates to DUI enforcement. Hawai’i does roadside safety checks along the Ala’Wai river leaving waikiki. If you get a DUI, usually the military branches handle everything. Its actually costing you more money to get a DUI as a military member getting busted down in rank. I have several friends dumb enough to risk driving home and paid the price.

    MA,IL,HI, as do most states, have a statute called implied consent. The statute says anyone in physical control of the vehicle must submit to chemical testing and/or blood/urine sample. As it relates to a DUI with injuries, you’re required to submit to breath testing AND blood/urine.

    People deserve the right to fair representation, but if you injury or kill someone from your stupidity, im dropping the EFFING hammer. No questions, no remorse. I don’t care if it was Tommy, Big Papi, or Bergy driving, you’re getting tagged.

  55. I’d be surprised if there weren’t containers of alcohol in the vehicle, and even if there weren’t, an argument can be made that under those circumstances (time of accident, speed, etc), there remained probable cause. Even so, the guy is going to go down for a significant time for aggravated speed and criminal vehicular homicide, with a sentence for DUI (or aggravated DUI) just served concurrently anyway.

  56. OK, so let’s imagine the cops hadn’t taken a blood sample to test sobriety in this case. What would we be talking about then?

  57. The motion will be thrown out. Lawyers do this all the time, when their case is near impossible.

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