The word is out that the Colorado Supreme Court recently heard arguments for appealing the state’s DUI implied consent laws, based on a trio of appeals of lower court rulings. According to an article published in the Denver Post, the Colorado Supreme Court Justices ruled against the appellants’ arguments in each case, thereby effectively upholding the laws as they are now written.
Essentially, the expressed consent law means that every driver who gets behind the wheel in Colorado is subject to breath and blood alcohol tests if a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that they are operating the vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It’s a strict law based on the premise that driving is a privilege in Colorado, not a legal right.
Proponents for implied consent laws argue that the law has significantly reduced the number of drunken driving accidents that result in injuries and fatalities throughout the state. Law enforcement agencies across the country are breathing a sigh of relief that the Colorado high court ruled in favor to uphold. If the judges had decided to weaken the DUI laws in this case, it likely could have set a precedent for other states to challenge their own implied consent laws.
The arguments brought before the Supreme Court related to three pending appeals
A summary of the three cases under appeal:
- In the case of Fitzgerald v. People, it was being argued that the Fourth Amendment allowed individuals to refuse a blood alcohol test. The Justices ruled, however, that the expressed consent law is constitutional and that the Fourth Amendment does not prevent attorneys from using evidence in court in which the individual refused to take a blood alcohol test.
- In the case of People v. Hyde, the Justices determined that it was legal for a law enforcement officer to mandate a blood alcohol test if the officer had probable cause to believe that the individual committed a driving offense or infraction as a result of being under the influence of alcohol.
- In the case of People v. Simpson, a lower court judge had initially ruled that reading the expressed consent laws to an individual could make the blood alcohol test inadmissible in court. However, the Supreme Court Justices ruled that reading the law to the individual who is going to be tested does not make the test an involuntary procedure.
The Colorado Supreme Court ruling is important for all drivers in Colorado, not just the ones who are facing DUI charges. Drivers must recognize that every time they get behind the wheel, they are agreeing to abide by state laws regarding consenting to the possibility of a blood alcohol test if pulled over with probable cause.