Because of the devastation often left behind following a DUI accident, legislators in the state of Colorado have strengthened DUI jurisprudence, noting that driving is a statutory privilege rather than a right. This means if you have a Colorado driver’s license, you have, in essence, expressed consent for a blood or urine test if you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. The Colorado state Supreme Court delivered three separate decisions regarding expressed consent and the ability of a police officer to draw blood from a DUI suspect.
Questions Asked by the Colorado Supreme Court
Questions arose while the Court struggled with these issues. As an example, the Court discussed whether a test is still valid, once the police officer has informed the driver of the express consent doctrine, and the answer was “yes,” with an explanation that it “buttresses the very foundation of the rule.” The next question to be decided was whether a police officer could present an impaired driver for a blood test, even if that person was unconscious.
Again, the court said “yes,” going back to the driver’s consent by obtaining a Colorado driver’s license. Finally, the court asked whether refusal of a blood or breath test can be used against a driver in his or her criminal case. The judges once more said “yes,” such a refusal can be used against the driver, noting that once the police establish probable cause that a blood or urine test is required, the driver’s refusal becomes an element in the criminal case against the driver who failed to comply with the law.
Cases the Colorado Supreme Court Considered While Making the Determinations
The Court determined in Fitzgerald v. People, that a driver who refuses a breathalyzer or blood test can have that refusal used as evidence against him or her at trial, and that this evidence does not violate the driver’s Fourth Amendment rights. The Supreme Court held in People v. Hyde that a driver who is suspected of impaired driving can have his or her blood tested without consent—even if the driver is unconscious. Finally, in People v. Simpson, the Colorado Supreme Court determined that reading a DUI suspect the advisement which states expressed consent fails to render the test involuntary, despite the fact that a judge had previously ruled the very act of reading the driver an expressed consent advisement made the test inadmissible.
In the Case of People v. Simpson
In this case, William Simpson was observed by a police officer as he slammed his vehicle into a curb multiple times then steered his vehicle directly into oncoming traffic. The smell of alcohol was evident on Simpson’s breath, and, in fact, Simpson acknowledged he was impaired and unable to exit his vehicle because of his inebriated state. At the hospital, Simpson did sign a blood test consent form—but signed in the wrong place. His BAC was 0.448—five times the legal limit. Simpson’s attorneys said Simpson was too impaired to consent to the test.
The judge found the test to be coercive, and subsequently suppressed the test. The Supreme Court found that when Simpson made the decision to get behind the wheel in the state of Colorado, he had, in effect, consented to the terms of the expressed consent statute—which includes a requirement to submit to a blood draw. Thus, said the Court, the blood draw was constitutional, since Simpson never revoked his consent.
If you have been arrested in the state of Colorado for DUI, it is important that you immediately speak to an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will ensure your rights are protected from start to finish, and will work hard to ensure you receive the least amount of consequences associated with your charges.
Contact Our Boulder DUI Defense Lawyers Today
Contact the Boulder DUI defense lawyers at Steven Louth Law Offices today for a free consultation and review of your case. Call us at (303) 422-2297 to start building a solid defense against these serious criminal charges.