December 31, 2014

Should law enforcement officers be allowed to take your blood if you are suspected of a DUI, you are unconscious and haven’t consented to a blood draw, and officers don’t have a warrant? The U.S. Supreme Court justices may soon rule on this controversial issue if they agree to review a Colorado DUI case.

Backed by attorneys general from at least 12 different states, the Colorado DUI case that is at the heart of a growing controversy may end up having profound impacts on suspects’ Fourth Amendment rights if the justices end up ruling in favor of the prosecutor in this case.

Facts of the Colorado DUI Case

A Colorado DUI case involving a warrantless blood draw from an unconscious DUI suspect may be reviewed by the Supreme Court. If it is, the decision could impact your Fourth Amendment rights.

A Colorado DUI case involving a warrantless blood draw from an unconscious DUI suspect may be reviewed by the Supreme Court. If it is, the decision could impact your Fourth Amendment rights.

Here’s what happened in the controversial Colorado DUI case, according to the police report and court documents associated with the case. The defendant, Jack Schaufele, reportedly caused a car accident in a busy intersection in May 2013. When police arrived at the scene of the collision, officers reported that Schaufele seemed disoriented and had impaired speech. While officers thought Schaufele may be displaying symptoms of head injuries related to the accident, they also noted that it could be due to possible intoxication.

Schaufele was taken to the hospital for treatment, at which point another police officer noted smelling alcohol on his breath. Before the officer could obtain Schaufele’s consent for a blood draw, Schaufele fell asleep, and the officer proceeded with the blood draw without getting a warrant to do so. BAC testing on Schaufele’s blood revealed that his BAC was just about triple the legal limit (i.e., nearly 0.24).

When this Colorado DUI case initially proceeded to trial, the judge threw out the results of the BAC testing because, as the defense argued, Schaufele’s Fourth Amendment rights had been violated by the officer who took his blood.

An additional factor that is complicating this case is a previous Supreme Court opinion regarding blood draws and warrants in DUI cases. In fact, Chief Justice John Roberts has previously written that, in suspected DUI cases, officers can take suspects’ blood without a warrant if there is reason to believe that there isn’t enough time to get a warrant (as alcohol levels are constantly diminishing in people’s bloodstreams, so there should be an exception in these cases). However, as the attorneys general backing this case have pointed out, there is clearly too much ambiguity in that prior opinion, and law enforcement officers across the nation now need clearer guidelines as to when it’s OK to proceed with warrantless blood draws on unconscious DUI suspects.

If the Supreme Court decides to review this case, we will report on the final ruling here, as it could impact your Fourth Amendment rights in the future.

Broomfield DUI Defense Lawyers at The Datz Law Firm

Have you or a loved one been charged with a DUI? If so, the Broomfield DUI defense attorneys at The Datz Law Firm are ready to provide you with superior defense representation. At The Datz Law Firm, we know how stressful and consuming serious legal problems can be. That’s why we’re here to help you resolve your legal issues, get through these challenging times and move forward into a brighter future.

To schedule an initial consultation and learn more about how we can help you, call us at (720) 256-2404, or email us using the contact form at the top of this page. Although our office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., we make ourselves available anytime of the day or night to talk about your important legal matters – or simply to discuss your worries and concerns. The bottom line is that we are flexible, available, and responsive.

From our offices in Broomfield, we represent clients throughout the Denver metro area, as well as throughout Boulder County, Broomfield County, Jefferson County, Weld County, Adams County, Arapahoe County and Douglas County.

Categories: Blog, Criminal Defense, DUI