Prosecutors Request U.S. Supreme Court to Review Colorado DUI Case

As detailed in a recent Denver Post article, Jack Schaufele was driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) almost three times the legal limit back in 2012 when he collided with an oncoming vehicle in a busy intersection during rush hour, injuring the other driver. Officers who responded to the scene of the crash observed Schaufele to be disoriented and slurring his speech. Once he arrived at the hospital, another officer smelled alcohol on his breath. Although the officer never attempted to obtain a warrant, a blood draw to measure the man’s BAC occurred about an hour after the crash. Due to the lack of a warrant, the Arapahoe County trial court, as well as the Colorado Supreme Court, agreed that the evidence of Schaufele’s intoxication, as shown in the blood draw results, was inadmissible due to violation of the man’s Fourth Amendment rights.   

Fourteen States Seek U.S. Supreme Court Review

The Arapahoe District Attorney’s office filed a request to have the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the issue raised by the Schaufele case, i.e. when a warrantless blood draw is permissible. Although the high court took up a similar issue in 2013, the Court’s ruling required only that officers consider multiple factors before proceeding with a blood draw in a DUI suspect, and be able to explain why they did not obtain a warrant prior to the blood draw. Thirteen other states have joined in the Colorado petition for the Supreme Court to hear the Schaufele case, citing the need for a clear rule that will give specific guidance to law enforcement authorities nationwide.

Arapahoe County’s Current Practices on Blood Draws

Currently, the Aurora Police Department does seek a warrant for a blood draw in all suspected DUI accidents that involve vehicular assault or homicide. However, it can take as much as six hours on average to receive a warrant authorizing the blood draw. Due to the fact that time gradually decreases a defendant’s BAC, first blood draws typically occur before a warrant is received. Law enforcement officials are currently taking these precautions in order to avoid running afoul of prior court ruling and the constitutional rights of the defendant.

Contact a Skilled Colorado DUI Lawyer for Help

The issue of warrantless blood draws in suspected DUI cases continues to be a difficult legal issue for law enforcement authorities, attorneys, and defendants alike. Should the high court take up this issue for further consideration, there could be significant consequences nationwide based on the direction that the Court takes. Meanwhile, any DUI charge, and especially those involving vehicular assault or homicide, can result in very serious repercussions. As a result, you cannot afford to go it alone. If you find yourself involved in this type of situation, you should immediately contact a qualified Denver DUI attorney for advice. Tiftickjian Law Firm, P.C., is dedicated to serving the needs of those individuals who are accused of Colorado DUI and DUI-related charges. Call us at (303) DUI-5280, or contact us online at www.CriminalLawDenver.com.

 

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