Colorado drivers might not realize this, but when you get your driver’s license, you are agreeing that you will submit to breath and blood tests if law enforcement officers think you might be driving drunk. A recent United States Supreme Court ruling is now calling the Colorado law that behind that agreement into question.
The Supreme Court has ruled that law enforcement officers need to obtain a search warrant in order to get a blood sample. The ruling doesn’t apply to breath tests, which can be obtained without a warrant.
In Colorado, the ruling could have an impact on drunk driving cases as well as drugged driving cases. A blood test is the method used to determine possible impairment from marijuana and other drugs. A saliva test is something that is being considered, but that test isn’t currently covered by this Supreme Court ruling.
The issue with blood tests to determine intoxication is that the needle has to pierce the skin in order to obtain blood. No piercing is necessary for breath tests, which is why the majority of justices determined that no search warrant is needed. For saliva tests, there isn’t any piercing necessary; however, saliva is considered a biological sample. Therefore, a ruling by the Supreme Court might be necessary one day to determine the legality of obtaining a saliva sample without a search warrant.
While it is unlikely that this ruling will affect cases that have already gone through the court system, it will impact current and future cases. If you find yourself facing a DUI or drugged driving charge, learning what laws apply to your case can help you work with your attorney to determine your defense strategy options.
Source: 9 News, “Warrantless DUI blood draws unconstitutional,” Janet Oravetz, KUSA, June 23, 2016