Warrantless Blood Draws and Utah’s Implied Consent Statute

What is Implied Consent?

All 50 States have adopted implied consent laws that require motorists, as a condition of operating a motor vehicle within the State, to consent to a chemical test to if they are arrested or otherwise detained on suspicion of a drunk-driving offense in order to determine the motorist’s blood alcohol level.

Utah’s implied consent law is found in Utah Code 41-6a-520 and states that every person is deemed to have given his consent to a chemical test of the person’s “breath, blood, urine, or oral fluids” to determine if the individual was driving while impaired.  If you are arrested for DUI in Utah, the law enforcement officer must ask for your consent to perform a test and give you an opportunity to refuse.  If you refuse, the officer then must give you an admonition explaining that if you refuse you can lose your license for 18 months.

What If I Refuse a Blood Test?

Recently the United States Supreme Court decided Missouri v. McNeely and found that the natural metabolization of alcohol in the bloodstream does not present a per se exception under the exigent circumstances exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement.  Whether a warrantless blood draw was justified must be considered on the totality of the circumstances and if the totality of the circumstances does not justify the warrantless search then the results should be suppressed by the trial court and the results should not be admitted against the defendant.

Does McNeely Apply to My Case?

If you are facing DUI charges think back on whether the law enforcement officer asked for your consent to draw your blood.  Did he ever talk to about it?  Most law enforcement officers will only ask for your consent to do a breath test.  Sometimes the breath test does not work properly because of an insufficient air quantity that is tested.  At that point law enforcement may seek to do a blood draw, but they can only do so with your consent or a warrant.

Let our Utah DUI lawyers take a look at your case to see if we can get your blood test results suppressed.  Call us anytime at 801.618.1334 for a free consultation.

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