People v. Raider

Citation2022 CO 40
Decision Date12 September 2022
Docket Number21SC119
PartiesThe People of the State of Colorado, Petitioner v. Charles Raider, Jr. Respondent
CourtSupreme Court of Colorado

2022 CO 40

The People of the State of Colorado, Petitioner

Charles Raider, Jr.

No. 21SC119

Supreme Court of Colorado, En Banc

September 12, 2022

In this case, after being arrested for DUI, the defendant refused a breath or blood test under the Expressed Consent Statute, which prohibits the use of forced specimen collection except in four specific circumstances. As a result, officers applied for and received a search warrant to conduct a blood draw, authorizing them to use reasonable force as necessary. The Colorado Supreme Court thus considers whether the prohibition against forced specimen collection in the Expressed Consent Statute applies to all searches of people suspected of DUI or only to warrantless searches. The Colorado Supreme Court concluded that the statute only contemplates warrantless searches. Therefore, the Colorado Supreme Court holds that the Expressed Consent Statute's prohibition against forced specimen collection has no bearing on searches executed pursuant to a valid


warrant. Accordingly, the Colorado Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals.


Certiorari to the Colorado Court of Appeals Court of Appeals Case No. 17CA1896

Attorneys for Petitioner:

Philip J. Weiser, Attorney General Brian M. Lanni, Assistant Attorney General II Denver, Colorado

Attorneys for Respondent:

Schelhaas Law LLC Krista A. Schelhaas Littleton, Colorado






¶1 Colorado's Expressed Consent Statute, section 42-4-1301.1(1)-(2)(a)(I), C.R.S. (2021), provides that "[a]ny person who drives any motor vehicle" on the roads of the state "shall be deemed to have . . . consent[ed] to . . . breath or blood [tests]" and shall "cooperate in the taking and completing of" such tests when "directed by a law enforcement officer having probable cause to believe that the person was driving a motor vehicle in violation of the prohibitions against" driving under the influence ("DUI")-related offenses. But the statute further provides that "[n]o law enforcement officer shall physically restrain any person for the purpose of obtaining a specimen of such person's blood, breath, saliva, or urine for testing except when the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed" one of four enumerated crimes: criminally negligent homicide, vehicular homicide, assault in the third degree, or vehicular assault. § 42-4-1301.1(3).

¶2 This case considers whether that prohibition against forced specimen collection applies to all searches of people suspected of DUI or only to warrantless searches. We conclude that the statute only contemplates warrantless searches. Therefore, we hold that the Expressed Consent Statute's prohibition against forced specimen collection has no bearing on searches executed pursuant to a valid warrant. Hence, we reverse the judgment of the court of appeals.


I. Facts and Procedural History

¶3 A Fort Collins police officer responded to a call about an unauthorized car in a disability parking space. When the officer approached the car, he found Charles Raider sitting in the driver's seat with the keys in the ignition and the engine running. The officer noticed various signs of visible intoxication; Raider had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, and he smelled of alcohol. Raider denied having consumed any alcohol, and when the officer asked him to perform roadside maneuvers, he declined. The officer then arrested Raider for DUI and, pursuant to the Expressed Consent Statute, gave him the choice of a breath or blood test. Raider initially didn't respond, but ultimately, he refused.

¶4 After learning that Raider had several prior DUI convictions, another officer applied for a search warrant to conduct a blood draw. The officers transported Raider to the hospital, and after about an hour, they received a warrant authorizing them to draw a blood sample for testing and to use reasonable force if necessary. Again, Raider refused to cooperate, so hospital personnel put him in a four-point leather restraint, and several officers held him down while his blood was drawn. Testing revealed that his blood alcohol content was well above the legal limit.

¶5 The prosecution charged Raider with, among other crimes, felony DUI. The trial court denied Raider's pre-trial motion to suppress the results of the blood test,


concluding that the Expressed Consent Statute's prohibition against forced specimen collection does not apply when, as here, a blood draw is authorized by a warrant. At trial, the prosecution presented evidence of Raider's blood-test results and refusal to cooperate with the blood draw. Ultimately, the jury found Raider guilty of felony DUI.

¶6 Raider appealed, and a division of the court of appeals reversed. The division held that under the plain language of subsection (3) of the Expressed Consent Statute, aside from the four enumerated exceptions, "officers may not force a driver suspected of DUI . . . to take a blood test . . . even if [they] obtain a warrant authorizing the test." People v. Raider, 2021 COA 1, ¶ 4, 490 P.3d 1079, 1081. The division concluded that the statute's language is "clear and unequivocal" because "[t]he use of the term 'except' followed by four specific exceptions indicates that the only circumstances in which officers may force testing . . . are those listed in the statute." Id. at ¶ 17, 490 P.3d at 1083 (emphasis added). The division determined that the statute's silence regarding warrants did not create ambiguity, see Riley v. People, 104 P.3d 218, 221 (Colo. 2004) ("The presence of one exception is generally construed as excluding other exceptions."), and that the legislature could have expressly included an exception for searches conducted pursuant to a warrant had it wanted. Raider, ¶ 18, 490 P.3d at 1083.


¶7 We granted certiorari and now reverse.[1]

II. Standards of Review

¶8 Review of a trial court's suppression order presents a mixed question of law and fact. People v. Munoz-Gutierrez, 2015 CO 9, ¶ 14, 342 P.3d 439, 443. We defer to the trial court's findings of fact if they are supported by the record, but we assess the legal effect of those facts de novo. Id. We also review statutory interpretation de novo. People v. Smith, 254 P.3d 1158, 1161 (Colo. 2011).

¶9 When we read a statute, we must first "determine whether the language at issue has a plain and unambiguous meaning." Burton v. Colo. Access, 2018 CO 11, ¶ 23, 428 P.3d 208, 212 (quoting Robinson v. Shell Oil Co., 519 U.S. 337, 340 (1997)). In doing so, we give effect to the express language of the statute and consider it as a whole to give consistent, harmonious, and sensible effect to all its parts. Garrigan v. Bowen, 243 P.3d 231, 235 (Colo. 2010); Davison v. Indus. Claim Appeals Off., 84 P.3d 1023, 1029 (Colo. 2004). Additionally, "[s]tatutes should be interpreted, if possible, to harmonize and give meaning to other potentially conflicting statutes." People in Int. of D.L.E., 645 P.2d 271, 274 (Colo. 1982); see also


People v. James, 497 P.2d 1256, 1257 (Colo. 1972) ("If two acts of the legislature may be construed so that an inconsistency will be avoided, it is our duty to so construe them."). When construing a statute, a court's "primary purpose is to ascertain and effectuate the intent of the General Assembly." People v. Diaz, 2015 CO 28, ¶ 12, 347 P.3d 621, 624. So "although we must give effect to the statute's plain and ordinary meaning, the intention of the legislature will prevail over a literal interpretation of the statute that leads to an absurd result." AviComm, Inc. v. Colo. Pub. Utils. Comm'n, 955 P.2d 1023, 1031 (Colo. 1998) (citations omitted).

III. Analysis

¶10 We begin with an overview of the relevant Fourth Amendment principles, including the warrant requirement. Next, we explain Colorado's Expressed Consent Statute and its prohibition against forced specimen collection. We then consider whether that prohibition precludes collection pursuant to a warrant. We hold that the Expressed Consent Statute's prohibition against forced specimen collection has no bearing on searches executed pursuant to a valid warrant.

A. The Fourth Amendment

¶11 The United States Constitution and the Colorado Constitution both protect individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. U.S. Const. amend. IV; Colo. Const. art. II, § 7. This constitutional principle applies to blood draws because such "an invasion of bodily integrity . . . implicates an individual's 'most


personal and deep-rooted expectations of privacy.'" People v. Simpson, 2017 CO 25, ¶ 17, 392 P.3d 1207, 1211 (quoting Missouri v. McNeely, 569 U.S. 141, 148 (2013)).

¶12 A search conducted pursuant to a valid search warrant issued by a neutral magistrate generally satisfies the Fourth Amendment's reasonableness requirement. See United States v. Ventresca, 380 U.S. 102, 105-06 (1965); People v. Gall, 30 P.3d 145, 149 (Colo. 2001). In Colorado, a judge may issue a warrant for "material evidence in a subsequent criminal prosecution." § 16-3-301(2)(e), C.R.S. (2021). The executing officer of "every search warrant" is authorized to "use and employ such force as is reasonably necessary in the performance of the duties commanded by the warrant." § 16-3-304(3)(b), C.R.S. (2021) (emphasis added).

¶13 A warrantless search, on the other hand, is presumptively unreasonable unless it falls within a recognized exception. McNeely, 569 U.S. at 148. One such exception to the warrant requirement is the subject's voluntary consent. Simpson, ¶ 19, 392 P.3d at 1211.

B. Colorado's Expressed Consent Statute

¶14 Many states, including Colorado, have instituted implied consent laws that help to enforce drunk-driving laws and secure...

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