Current Colorado law requires anyone driving a vehicle within the state to submit to a breath or blood test if asked to do so by a law enforcement officer who has probable cause to believe a driver may be impaired to the slightest degree by drugs, alcohol or a combination of both. However, a new Supreme Court ruling may draw this law into question. The exact effects of this ruling on Colorado laws are yet to be seen, but it is likely that the Supreme Court’s decision will affect both new and pending cases in Colorado.
Understanding the Current Law
As in all states, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not legal in Colorado. Anyone caught driving under the influence or impaired to the slightest degree by alcohol and/or drugs can be charged with DUI and/or DUID, depending on the circumstances. Colorado’s current law also includes a provision known as “express consent,” which means that any person driving a vehicle in the state has automatically consented to any blood, breath, saliva or urine tests that may be requested by law enforcement. The results of these tests can be used as evidence in DUI and DUID cases. In cases where a driver is suspected of being under the influence of alcohol, a breath or blood test is often requested and used in prosecution. However, if the individual is suspected of being under the influence of drugs, such as marijuana, a blood test will be requested and required, as a breath test is not capable of detecting the presence of drugs.
About the Ruling
In June 2016, the United States Supreme Court ruled that requiring suspects to submit to a blood draw without a warrant is unconstitutional. Following this ruling, police will now need a warrant in order to demand a blood draw when they suspect that an individual is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The reasoning behind this decision relates to the intrusiveness of blood testing, since it requires the use of a needle and the drawing of fluid from the human body. This ruling will potentially cause issues in Colorado, as it goes against the state’s express consent law which requires a person to submit to a test and imposes consequences for refusing to consent with the request for chemical testing.
Dealing with the Implications
The Supreme Court’s ruling is unlikely to affect any DUI or DUID cases that have already closed. However, cases that are still pending, as well as future cases, may be affected by this law. In the cases involving alcohol, this new ruling may lead to future changes in Colorado’s laws. At this time, refusing a breath test in Colorado is not considered a crime, but it the refusal does carry administrative consequences at the DMV and the refusal can be used against you in court as evidence of guilt. However, only time will tell if the state may make changes to this part of the law because of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
According to 9 News, law enforcement officials may be able to force individuals to take blood tests without a warrant in certain situations, such as accidents that resulted in serious injury or death. The state may also eventually decide to implement saliva testing for drivers suspected of driving under the influence of drugs other than alcohol. However, it is possible that the Supreme Court may eventually have to rule on whether swabbing of the mouth is too invasive to perform without a warrant as well.
Seeking Legal Counsel
If you have been charged with DUI or DUID in Colorado, Tiftickjian Law Firm is here to protect your rights and help you build your case. If you were forced to submit to a blood test before being charged, this new ruling may affect your case. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.
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