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Minnesota DWI Laws and Your Fourth Amendment Rights

The laws affecting those charged with a DWI in Minnesota are currently facing significant change. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled on a decision that more effectively safeguards the rights of Minnesotans and U.S. Citizens to be free from illegal searches without a warrant.

The Supreme Court defines a breath, urine, or blood test as a search under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.[1] So, because of each individual's interest in the security of their own person, a police officer must acquire a search warrant from a Judge before an intrusion into the body.

A few exceptions to this rule do exist and one of those arises when there is an emergency situation or an exigent circumstance.[2] For years Minnesota courts have ruled that the natural dissipation of alcohol from the body is enough of an emergency to allow officers to take breath, urine and blood tests without warrants.[3] However, in April 2013, the Supreme Court disagreed with Minnesota's law in Missouri v. McNeely.[4] In that case the court ruled that the natural dissipation of alcohol does NOT create a justification for bypassing a warrant when it comes to blood tests.[5] Furthermore, because the Supreme Court treats blood tests the same as breath and urine tests[6], we now argue that the Supreme Court's ruling must also apply to breath and urine tests and not blood testing alone.

These issues are currently being considered by the Minnesota Supreme Court in State of Minnesota v. Brooks.[7] Now, more than ever, you will need a top notch criminal defense attorney to navigate these complicated legal waters.

If ever you are stopped by the police, please call Caplan & Tamburino at 612-444-5020 prior to submitting to any form of testing. We will walk you through the process, inform you of your rights and make certain that you receive the Constitutional protection to which you are entitled.

[1] Skinner v. Ry. Labor Executives' Ass'n, 489 U.S. 602, 616, (1989); see also Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757, 767-768 (1966).

[2] Missouri v. McNeely, 133 S.Ct. 1552 (2013).

[3] State v. Netland, 762 N.W.2d 202 (2009); see also Ellngson v. Com'r of Public Safety, 800 N.W.2d 805 (2011).

[4] Missouri v. McNeely, 133 S.Ct. 1552 (2013).

[5] Id.

[6] Skinner v. Ry. Labor Executives' Ass'n, 489 U.S. 602, 616, (1989); see also Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757, 767-768 (1966).

[7] State v. Brooks, A11-1042, 2012 WL 1570064 (Minn. Ct. App. May 7, 2012), review denied (July 17, 2012), cert. granted, judgment vacated, 133 S. Ct. 1996 (U.S. 2013)


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