Living here in Colorado, most of our readers have probably heard the ongoing DUI story involving Jack Schaufele, a man who caused a crash and was found to have a blood alcohol level that was almost three time the legal limit. He was arrested on DUI charges, but a state judge ultimately ruled that the evidence the police had garnered from Schaufele’s body — the blood sample that showed his BAC level — was inadmissible in court.
The reason? No warrant was issued for the blood test. Taking Schaufele’s blood without that warrant represented a violation of his search and seizure rights.
Prosecutors have since asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case, and a number of other states have signed on in support of the prosecutors’ request. If the Supreme Court takes the case, it will be a major decision. The case will have tremendous implications for the whole country, especially as to how it relates to blood tests, warrants and DUIs. But it could also have a sweeping effect on search and seizure laws in general.
Even though the context of this case gives credence to Schaufele’s negligence, the fact of the matter is the police used improper methods to obtain the evidence to prove that negligence. No matter how you may feel about someone accused of drunk driving, they still have rights — and those rights are important because they are your rights too. You would want the same forgiveness if a police officer acted improperly during an investigation into your alleged drunk driving.
Source: Denver Post, “Colorado DUI case sent to U.S. Supreme Court, focuses on blood tests,” Jordan Steffen, Dec. 7, 2015