March 24, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: People v. Null

on June 21, 2010.

Custodial Interrogation—Miranda—Express Consent Statute—Extraordinary Circumstances Exception.

The Supreme Court held that the police violated the defendant’s Miranda rights when they subjected him to custodial interrogation without first advising him of his rights. Before interrogation, defendant was detained on the side of the road for a relatively lengthy period; he was not free to leave; and he failed several roadside sobriety tests, giving the officers reasonable grounds for arrest. Two officers then surrounded defendant and interrogated him without advising him of his rights. The Court affirmed the trial court’s order to suppress defendant’s incriminating statements.

The Court also affirmed the trial court’s determination that defendant’s rights were violated under Colorado’s express consent statute, CRS § 42-4-1301.1. Under that statute, a driver may choose either a blood test or a breath test to determine blood alcohol content. Absent extraordinary circumstances, law enforcement must provide the driver with the chosen test. Defendant chose a blood test, but the ambulance service refused to respond to law enforcement’s request for a blood test. The prosecution presented no evidence that extraordinary circumstances prevented the ambulance service from performing the blood test. The Court therefore affirmed the trial court’s finding that no extraordinary circumstances existed to justify law enforcement’s violation of defendant’s statutory right to receive a blood test. Under these circumstances, the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it suppressed defendant’s refusal to take a breath test and dismissed the charge of driving under the influence.

Summary and full case available here.

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