Colorado DUI case could have a national impact

If the Supreme Court decides to hear a Colorado DUI case, their decision could have a national impact on how blood tests are conducted.

In Colorado, it is illegal for drivers to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content level at or above 0.08. If a law enforcement official suspects that a driver has a BAC level above this legal limit, he or she may administer a blood, urine or breath test. Recently, according to the Associated Press, prosecutors from the state of Colorado asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a decision made by the Colorado Supreme Court and a state judge that ruled that a law office enforcement official needed a warrant before ordering blood to be drawn from a man suspected of drunk driving.

In this case, a man was involved in an accident in 2012 and a law enforcement official ordered a blood test without first getting his consent or acquiring a warrant. After administering the blood test, it was discovered that the man's BAC level was almost three times the legal limit.

The Supreme Court's prior decision

According to an AP report, in April of 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement officials must be able to explain why they did not obtain a warrant before ordering a blood test for a suspected drunk driver and also consider multiple factors before making the decision to do so. In a dissenting opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts concluded that in certain DUI cases, there should be an exception to this rule. Since alcohol levels constantly decrease in the blood stream after consumption, law enforcement officials are justified in not acquiring a warrant for a blood test if they decide that there is not enough time to obtain one.

Potential implications

In addition to the request from the prosecutors, 13 other states in the nation have filed a petition requesting that the Supreme Court take the case. If the Supreme Court chooses to accept it, their decision could have implications that not only affect Colorado, but the rest of the nation. For example, if the law is not changed, blood tests that are taken without a warrant that also reveal a drivers' BAC level was above the legal limit may not be viewed as viable evidence in court.

Colorado DUI penalties

Drivers in Colorado who consent to a blood, breath or urine test during the DUI arrest process and it is discovered that their BAC level is above the legal limit may be required to pay a fine, spend time in prison and may even lose their driving privileges. If you were charged with DUI, speak with an attorney to find out what legal steps you should take next.

Keywords: DUI, drunk driving, arrest