Minnesota high court upholds DWI implied consent law

[JURIST] The Minnesota Supreme Court [official website] on Wednesday upheld [opinion, PDF] the state's driving while intoxicated (DWI) implied consent law, ruling it is constitutional under the Fourth Amendment [text; Cornell LII backgrounder]. The law makes it a crime for impaired drivers to refuse to take a breath, blood or urine test. The case, State v. Brooks, arose out of three separate driving incidents, in which Brooks consented to tests in all three incidents, though he alleged that he was coerced. Brooks moved to suppress the results of the blood and urine tests in each of the three cases because police took the samples without a warrant, seeking review from the supreme court after the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed Brooks' convictions in two separate opinions. In its opinion, the court concluded that "a driver's decision to agree to take a test is not coerced simply because Minnesota has attached the penalty of making it a crime to refuse the test." The court reviewed the totality of the circumstances, finding that the fact that Brooks consulted with counsel before agreeing to take each test reinforces the conclusion that his consent was not illegally coerced.

In April the US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [JURIST report] in Missouri v. McNeely [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] that the Fourth Amendment may require a warrant for a blood test in a drunk-driving investigation. The divided court ultimately held that "in drunk-driving investigations, the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream does not constitute an exigency in every case sufficient to justify a blood test without a warrant." Although Missouri also has a implied consent law, the McNeely case differs from the Brooks case, as McNeely continued to refuse a blood sample test even after the officer read him the implied consent statement. Additionally, unlike Brooks, McNeely did not consult his attorney prior to the search. In light of recent fourth amendment cases, some legal commentators have argued [JURIST commentary] that investigative techniques have eroded the rights encompassed in the fourth amendment.

 

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