This morning, the Minnesota Supreme Court has issued its long-anticipated
decision in the case of
State v. Bernard . Defense attorneys (and a myriad of entities interested in preserving
the Constitution) have been waiting with high hopes for a final determination
as to whether the State of Minnesota can charge a driver with a crime
for refusing a warrantless search. Our hopes have been dashed by the Supreme
Court’s ill-reasoned and overly expansive interpretation of a 1973
United States Supreme Court decision addressing searches incident to arrest,
United States v. Robinson , 414 U.S. 218 (1973). As a result, the Minnesota Supreme Court held, in
a split decision, that Minnesota refusal law is constitutional because
tests to ascertain the alcohol concentration of a driver suspected of
DWI are valid searches incident to arrest.
The dissent captures the fundamental flaw in the majority opinion:
Although this should not be a surprise to anyone familiar with the State’s
increasingly Draconian interpretation of laws related to drunk drivers,
it seems abhorrent that simply because a person is suspected of driving
while intoxicated, they are not subject to the same constitutional protections
warranted in any other type of crime.
The attorneys here at Caplan & Tamburino will continue to avidly fight
for our client’s rights, regardless of the type of case.