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Colorado Supreme Court expands police power to forcibly obtain DUI blood draws

On Behalf of | Sep 26, 2022 | DUI/DWI

A new ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court could make it easier for police in Boulder and across the state to get blood drawn from your body without your consent. The court ruled by a 6-1 vote that state law allows law enforcement to get a search warrant and have a blood draw forcibly done on a drinking and driving suspect.

Before this ruling, the law was understood to allow warrantless blood draws to test a driver’s blood-alcohol content without their consent by physically restraining them in limited circumstances only. But it was not clear whether the state Expressed Consent Statute allowed forced blood draws with a warrant on DUI suspects more broadly.

Silence on involuntary blood draws ‘irrelevant’

The six-justice majority reasoned that the fact that the statute does not indicate a position on warrant-based blood draws because “warrants are irrelevant to the statutory issue of consent” and are based on “an entirely independent constitutional ground for conducting a search” of the inside of a person’s body.

Search warrant requirements in Colorado

This broad interpretation of the statute could mean forcible blood draws will become much more common in Colorado. However, the court did acknowledge that the police will need to obtain a valid search first, at least most of the time.

For a warrant to hold up in court, it must be based on probable cause that the search will uncover evidence of a crime — in this case, a BAC over 0.08 percent in the suspect’s bloodstream. Errors or improper procedures associated with a search warrant could force the judge to throw out the seized evidence in the ensuing criminal trial.