How does the recent Supreme Court DUI case ruling affect Minnesotans?

The Supreme Court recently issued a split ruling on the legality of Minnesota’s criminal penalties for suspected drunk drivers who refuse chemical tests.

The United States Supreme Court recently issued a ruling on three consolidated cases that addressed the Fourth Amendment rights of suspected drunk drivers. The Court upheld the constitutionality of one aspect of Minnesota's implied consent law while striking down another portion of the law. Consequently, this ruling could have significant impacts on motorists in St. Paul and other parts of the state.

Separating breath and blood tests

The Court considered the case of a Minnesota man who reportedly showed signs of intoxication and was asked to submit to a DUI breath test. The man refused and was eventually charged with a felony, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The Court also heard two cases in which drivers from North Dakota were asked to submit to blood testing. In each case, the Court weighed whether drivers could be criminally penalized for refusing to submit to warrantless chemical testing.

According to USA Today, the Court found that the nature of the chemical testing must first be taken into account to determine whether a warrant is needed. The Court held that authorities must obtain a warrant to conduct blood testing, due to the invasive nature of this testing. However, the Court found that breath tests represent only a slight intrusion and therefore do not require a warrant. Accordingly, the Court determined that the legitimacy of legal penalties for refusing chemical testing varies based on the nature of the test.

Blood test penalties found unlawful

The Court held that criminal penalties for blood test refusals are unlawful, whereas penalties for breath test refusals are acceptable. This conclusion has significant implications for people in Minnesota, since in some cases the legal consequences for chemical test refusal can be more serous than the penalties for DUI. While this ruling shields drivers who refuse to consent to blood testing, it may still expose many motorists to harsh penalties.

Impacts on pending cases

This ruling may have a few substantial impacts on DUI cases that are currently pending in Minnesota and in other states with similar laws, as The Patriot-News observes. First, the ruling should lead to the dismissal of criminal charges that resulted from a driver's refusal of blood testing. Furthermore, it may allow some DUI defendants to challenge evidence that resulted from an improper warrantless blood test.

Importance of legal advice

This ruling serves as a reminder of the complex and serious consequences that drivers in Minnesota may face for violating the state's implied consent law. In light of these potential outcomes, people who have been accused of driving intoxicated may benefit from consulting with a DUI attorney before making any decisions about refusing or submitting to chemical testing. An attorney may be able to fully help a driver understand the potential risks and consequences of each course of action.