On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court will hear argument in Missouri v. McNeely, SC 91850. The outcome of this case could change DUI law significantly, mainly whether the police can forcefully take your blood without your permission and without a warrant. In McNeely, the police forced a drunk driving suspect to take a blood test at a hospital without a warrant after a traffic stop. Notably, there was no accident that involved serious injury or death that would normally allow police to force a blood test.
Currently in Colorado, police are allowed to take a DUI suspect’s blood without the person’s permission if there is and accident and cause to believe there is serious injury or death involved. In People v. Sutherland, 683 P.2d 1192 (Colo. 1984), the Colorado Supreme Court held that a driver’s blood might be taken without permission if four conditions are met:
(1) There must be probable cause for the arrest of the defendant on an alcohol-related driving offense;
(2) There must be a clear indication that the blood sample will provide evidence of the defendant’s level of intoxication;
(3) Exigent circumstances must exist which make it impractical to obtain a search warrant; and
(4) The test must be a reasonable one and must be conducted in a reasonable manner.
Recently, the Colorado Supreme Court in People v. Smith, 254 P.3d 1158 (Colo. 2011), held that a police officer does not have to ask for a defendant’s consent prior to proceeding with an otherwise constitutionally proper, involuntary blood draw.