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Can Cops Take Blood Samples from Unconscious DUI Suspects without Warrants?

Posted by Robert Werking | Dec 27, 2013 | 0 Comments

This important question may soon be answered by the U.S. Supreme Court if it agrees to review and rule on a controversial Colorado DUI case. In fact, more than 12 attorneys general in the U.S. have backed the petition to request that the Supreme Court make a ruling in the Colorado DUI case in question (2014 CO 43. No. 13SA276. People v. Schaufele).

If the high court does end up taking up this case, its final ruling could have significant impacts on:

  • DUI suspects' Fourth Amendment rights
  • Law enforcement officials' authority and power in DUI cases in the future.

Facts of the Colorado DUI Case: A Closer Look at the Controversy

To understand the nature of the controversial legal issue at play in this case, it's first important to know the facts of the Colorado DUI case. As court documents associated with this case explain, the defendant – Jack Schaufele – was involved in a car accident in May 2013. When police officers arrived at the scene, they noted that:

  • The Supreme Court may soon decide if, when and/or how cops can take blood samples from unconscious DUI suspects without warrants. Contact us for the best DUI defense.

    Schaufele appeared disoriented and exhibited some problems speaking clearly.

  • These issues could have been attributed to injuries from the collision and/or being drunk (or under the influence of drugs).

Schaufele and another person injured in this accident were taken to the hospital for treatment, at which time another cop:

  • Allegedly smelled alcohol on Schaufele
  • Failed to obtain a warrant to draw Schaufele's blood
  • Failed to obtain Schaufele's consent to take his blood, as he had fallen asleep or passed out
  • Took a blood sample anyways from the unconscious Schaufele.

The sample ended up showing that Schaufele's BAC was nearly 0.24 – close to three times the legal limit. However, when Schaufele's case when to trial, the first judge overseeing the case dismissed the BAC results because, as the judge determined, the defendant's blood had been taken in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.

Complicated this case is the fact that Chief Justice John Roberts has previously written an opinion that law enforcement officials should be able to take blood from DUI suspects when they have assessed that getting a warrant will take too long (as suspects' blood alcohol levels continuously drop and waiting for a warrant can hurt a case). However, attorneys general are now asking the Supreme Court to clarify this issue, as there clearly needs to be better defined rules for:

  • What actions will violate DUI suspects' Fourth Amendment rights
  • Whether there should be exceptions to DUI suspects' Fourth Amendment rights.

Littleton, Colorado Criminal Defense Attorneys at Knight and Moses

If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI or any crime, it will be critical that you have an experienced defense lawyer on your side in order to ensure the best possible outcome to your case. The skilled Littleton criminal defense lawyers at Knight and Moses focus exclusively on state and federal criminal defense, and we specialize in both misdemeanor and felony cases.

To learn more about your legal rights and how we can help you, email us using the contact form on the upper right-hand side of the screen or call us at (303) 797-1645.

The post Can Cops Take Blood Samples from Unconscious DUI Suspects without Warrants? appeared first on .

About the Author

Robert Werking

PARTNER Rob Werking is a committed and experienced Denver based criminal attorney with over thirty (30) years of trial work.  Mr. Rob Werking has tried hundreds of cases in the state district courts, county courts, and all municipal courts.

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