- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 3, 2015

LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) - The Idaho Attorney General’s Office is appealing a northern Idaho judge’s decision to toss out blood draw test results in a fatal crash case because police failed to get a search warrant.

The Attorney General’s Office filed the appeal Friday in 2nd District Court on behalf of the Nez Perce County Prosecutor’s Office concerning a 2nd District Court decision prohibiting Kyle N. Rios’ blood alcohol content of 0.263 percent from being used at trial. That’s three times the legal limit.

“I’m glad to see the attorney general’s office take this up, specifically to clarify some of the issues, like what constitutes withdrawing one’s consent and what amounts to exigencies for law enforcement when investigating fatality crashes like this,” Nez Perce County Deputy Prosecutor Justin Coleman told the Lewiston Tribune (https://bit.ly/1FS3YxG).

Rios is charged with vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of a fatal crash and drunk driving following the Dec. 1, 2013, crash that killed Paul W. Stuk of Peck. After the crash, Rios refused to sign a waiver for the blood draw.

Previously, under Idaho’s “implied consent law,” a warrant wasn’t needed. That law stated that by taking advantage of the privilege of driving on Idaho’s roads, a motorist had given his or her irrevocable implied consent to a blood draw.

However, the Idaho Supreme Court in December ruled that Idaho’s implied consent law cannot be used by police to perform warrantless blood draws because that action violates the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

The court said that police must get warrants before drawing blood from suspected drunk drivers who refuse to cooperate.

Some Idaho law enforcement agencies, including the Idaho State Police, started new procedures following a 2013 lower court decision and now typically get warrants for forced blood draws.

Still, it’s a relatively recent change.

“We think the case addresses an important question left open by recent decisions addressing the scope of Idaho’s implied consent law,” said Todd Dvorak, spokesman for the attorney general.

Rios’ trial had been set for later this month, but that will likely be delayed until the Idaho Supreme Court rules on the appeal from the Idaho Attorney General’s Office.

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Information from: Lewiston Tribune, https://www.lmtribune.com

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