MAJOR MINNESOTA DWI NEWS
In separate opinions released today, the Minnesota Supreme Court has said that portions of the Minnesota DWI law is unconstitutional. Specifically, these cases addressed the issue of whether a driver can be charged with a DWI in Minnesota for refusing to provide a blood or urine sample when the arresting officer does not have a search warrant.
RECENT LEGAL CHALLENGES
Several challenges to Minnesota’s DWI laws have been raised in recent years, primarily arguing that the Minnesota DWI law is unconstitutional. Drivers arrested on suspicion of DWI in Minnesota have argued that police officers conduct a search for evidence by collecting a blood, breath, or urine sample. The blood, breath, or urine sample is obviously obtained from the person of the arrested driver, which in turn is tested for evidence that is then used against that person. Because law enforcement is conducting a search for evidence, arrested drivers argued that police have to comply with the requirements of the 4th Amendment and get a search warrant prior to collecting the blood, breath, or urine sample. It appears that we now have answers, finally.
CURRENT STATUS OF MINNESOTA DWI LAWS
Here’s where we appear to be: police officers do not have to get a search warrant prior to requiring an individual arrested on suspicion of DWI to provide a breath sample as evidence of intoxication. However, police officers must get a search warrant before they can lawfully request or collect a blood or urine sample from an individual arrested on suspicion of DWI.
Courts have differentiated the individual privacy intrusion involved in the collection of a breath sample versus a blood or urine sample. Breath samples, courts have said, involve only a minimal invasion of privacy. The police do not have to stick a needle into you or collect a physical piece of evidence from you when they take a breath sample. Blood, on the other hand, involves a physical intrusion – often painful – into the body. Urine also involves a greater privacy invasion. An officer must personally observe the collection of the urine sample. And an individual is providing a physical piece of evidence from within their body. Because blood and urine invoke greater privacy invasions, courts have declared that police must get a search warrant signed by a judge before obtaining the sample from an individual arrested on suspicion of DWI in Minnesota.
You cannot be prosecuted for refusing to provide a blood or urine sample if the police do not have a search warrant.
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