Mankato Freepress Prioritizing Rights over the Convenience of a DWI Breath Test
Hooray for the Mankato Free Press prioritizing rights over the convenience of a DWI breath test. Read their opinion to understand that our US Constitution prohibits threatening criminal prosecution to compel consent. Our Bill of Rights require honoring the rights of the individual. Please Read…
Mankato Free Press
OUR VIEW: Implied consent High court rightly skeptical of law
Why it matters: Criminally punishing people for using their constitutional right not to be searched without a warrant should not stand.
Apr 25, 2016 - The U.S. Supreme Court seems poised to strike down implied-consent laws in Minnesota and 12 other states, laws that criminally punish suspected drunken drivers who refuse to take a blood-alcohol test.
It’s time the laws are done away with.
No one wants drunken drivers on the road or left unpunished. But there is no evidence that doing away with implied-consent laws will lead to anyone who drives drunk from going uncharged.
Under implied consent, suspected drunken drivers can be charged with felonies for refusing to take a breath or blood test. The charge is actually often treated more seriously than if the person is convicted of drunken driving.
When the justices heard arguments last week in cases involving Minnesota and North Dakota, they made clear they see the implied-consent laws as being at fundamental odds with protections against unreasonable search and seizure.
Justices Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor noted the “drastic” and “extraordinary” demands that were being made by states that have implied-consent laws.
Attorneys for the states argued that getting a warrant in a timely manner was a difficult task.
The attorneys for the states didn’t help themselves in their argument. One argued it was difficult in places like rural North Dakota to quickly get search warrants while the other attorney later argued that it was too hard to get one in busy urban areas.
But most of the justices, weren’t buying the argument — noting that with today’s technology, getting a judge to relatively quickly approve a search warrant electronically was not an undue burden on the government. Sotomayor said it wasn’t the Supreme Court’s job to waive constitutional protections simply to make it easier for states to prosecute suspected drunk drivers.
“It’s as if you want to create an exception to the Fourth Amendment … in a drastic way,” Sotomayor said.
The constitutional right to not face unreasonable searches from law enforcement and the government is too important to trifle with simply to make things easier for the state. The implied-consent laws severely punish people for using their constitutional rights not to be searched without a warrant. It’s a law that shouldn’t stand.
Supreme Court Considers Whether Minnesota DWI laws are Unconstitutional
On April 20, 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court heard Oral Arguments in Minnesota v. Bernard, as well as two relative North Dakota cases.
At issue in Bernard is whether the State can require drivers to provide a breath test sample when the State does not have a warrant, and where refusal of that test sample is criminalized by significant penalties, including jail time, as well as civil license related penalties.
The Court harped on the State’s lawyers as to why they don’t just get a warrant rather than asking the Court to make a new “bright line” exception, which It is not inclined to do.
There were distinctions suggested in oral argument between a blood and breath test, and all parties failed to point out that the blood tests are more accurate and preferable to the breath tests, which are not as reliable.
We are hopeful that the Court will not make any distinction between the two, and that It will require the State, in accordance with the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, to just get a warrant.
On December 11, 2015 the United States Supreme Court accepted review of Bernard vs. Minnesotaon the issue surrounding the unconstitutionality of Minnesota’s DWI laws. Previously, the Minnesota Supreme Court decided that a Datamaster breath test in a DWI investigation was a search incident to arrest. Therefore, the State did not require a suspect’s consent, nor a search warrant. The Minnesota Court found that Minnesota’s DWI law, which makes it a crime for refusing the breath test, does not violate our constitutional rights.
We have long argued that it is within our fundamental constitutional right to refuse warrantless searches. Minnesota case law on this issue has been going further down the rabbit hole ever since the Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision in McNeelyinvalidated the way Minnesota had been processing DWI suspects. The Minnesota Supreme Court has been burying Its head in the sand as to these constitutional violations.
Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court has determined to take the case up for review, and to settle the matter for all. It is likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will issue a decision on in this case in June of 2016. If you are currently charged with DWI in Minnesota, you have a reason to put your case, and possibly your driver’s license revocation, on hold until this matter is resolved. If you’ve recently been charged, please call to learn how we can help you benefit by awaiting the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.
DWI Law in Minnesota: Demand a warrant if a blood test is requested!
If you have recently been charged with DWI, and have either provided or refused a urine or blood test, you have an opportunity to have the matter dismissed, due to the recent Minnesota Court of Appeals decision, October 13, 2015, State v. Trahan.
The Court declared that charging a driver with a crime for refusing a warrantless blood test violates the individual’s right to due process, under the United States and Minnesota Constitutions.
This decision is significant as it is the first time that a Minnesota court has recognized that driver’s suspected of driving while intoxicated still have due process rights, and that it is wrong to require a driver, under the threat of being charged with a crime, to submit to a warrantless search.
Although this case specifically involves a blood test, we believe courts will extend the same rights to urine tests. However, the law regarding breath tests is still ruled by the Minnesota Supreme Court’s dismal decision in State v. Bernard, saying that a breath test can be requested, as incident to an arrest.
We have a constitutionally protected right of privacy limiting police control over our bodies. Minnesota’s courts are finally recognizing this right.