Monday, March 15, 2010

Consent Must be Voluntary and Willing

Utah v. Tripp, 2010 UT 9, (Utah Supreme Court, February 19, 2010).

Tripp collided with a motorcyclist.  Police smelled no alcohol on her breath.  As was routine, police asked Tripp for a blood sample.  She refused.  Backup and a victim’s advocate arrived.  At various times, the officers requested a blood sample.  No officer identified probable cause to take a sample.  Tripp consistently refused.  When family members intervened and told her not to answer the officers’ questions, they arrested Tripp and isolated her in the back of a patrol car.  While there, police assigned a victim’s advocate “to help [Tripp] become more relaxed with the blood draw.”  The advocate complied.  Tripp still refused the blood draw.  The technician told her “let me put on this tourniquet, see if we can find a spot.”  Tripp extended her arm, the technician put the tourniquet on, and blood was drawn.

Tripp moved, and the court refused, to suppress the blood evidence.  Tripp, convicted, appealed.  The court of appeals reversed, and the State sought certiorari.  The Supreme Court found Tripp’s consent to be involuntary, and as such, affirmed the reversal.  The consent was not voluntary because police coercion worked to overcome Tripp’s refusal.  The acts of coercion were (1) various officers requesting the sample, (2) the assistance of the Victim Advocate to get the sample, and (3) the technician’s failure to warn Tripp before the draw, and (4) Tripp’s illegal arrest isolated her.  For all these reasons, the Court found it appropriate to suppress the blood evidence. 

In addition, the Court found that there was no probable cause and there was no exigent circumstance sufficient to warrant the police actions.

Full Decision available at

:: By using this blog site you understand that this information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to constitute legal advice. This blog site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. This blog site is not intended to be advertising and D. Grant Dickinson does not wish to represent anyone desiring representation based upon viewing this blog site in a state where this blog site fails to comply with all laws and ethical rules of that state.::


:: (c) 2009-2011 D. Grant Dickinson some rights reserved ::