What is the Status of DWI Search Warrants?
UPDATE – January 2016 – Blood & Urine Test Refusal Unconstitutional in Minnesota!
State v. Trahan (Minn. App. 2015) (the State’s act of criminalizing a driver’s refusal to consent to blood alcohol testing violates due process). This case has huge implications for the validity of many DUI prosecutions in the State of Minnesota. The issue will have an impact on many more cases than just refusal of a blood test. As a result, please consult your attorney immediately to determine the applicability of this new precedent to your specific Minnesota DWI case. There are strict deadlines that your attorney will need to meet for both criminal and Implied Consent cases. A similar decision has now been handed down in Urine Cases.
Minnesota v. Bernard (U.S. 2016) (Police do not need a Search Warrant in order to charge/prosecute a Breath Test Refusal)
Test Failure Cases (Breath, Blood and Urine) –
On October 23, 2013, the Minnesota Supreme Court decided the Brooks matter. Mr. Brooks agreed to testing and was charged with a felony in each case. Our high Court held that Brooks freely and consented to testing, thereby providing a search warrant exception, i.e., no search warrant was therefore required to search his body for evidence of a crime/DWI. The defense argued that police warnings that Brooks was “required to test” and that “refusal to test is a crime” surely rendered his testing decision coercive. A dissenting justice of the Court agreed with the defense, stating that Minnesota has long ago recognized that the Advisory’s threats are an obvious attempt to coerce testing. In any event, one should keep in mind that Brooks holds that each case must be decided on its own facts and circumstances, and that a driver can win (as we have proven) search warrant challenges even after the Brooks decision.
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Refusal is Less Serious than DWI??
State v. St. John, (Minn. App. 2014) (refusal to test does not implicate public safety concerns, and is therefore less serious than DWI). So why is the criminal and license penalty much harsher for refusing the test for the average citizen? Many drivers charged with Refusal OR DUI will want to consider challenging this backwards scheme as a Due Process violation as guaranteed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.