Recent Supreme Court Case May Erase Past DWI Offenses

A recent Supreme Court case called Missouri v. McNeely is having a significant effect on DWI laws in Minnesota. As a result, a lawyer at Caplan and Tamburino may be able to keep you from being convicted on your recent DWI or even get a DWI conviction from the past removed from your record. If you've had a recent or past DWI, please call us at 612-444-5020 and meet with a lawyer today to see if we can help you.

The new McNeely rule requires that each police officer must acquire a warrant before administering a breath, blood or urine test to discover someone's blood alcohol content during a DWI stop. If the officer who took your DWI test did not get a warrant, then we may be able to help you get your DWI thrown out of court or removed from your record.

In general, the courts do NOT allow new rules to be applied to cases that have had a final judgment.[1] However, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that a new rule for criminal prosecutions should be applied to all cases that are not yet final.[2] This means that if you still have the right to appeal your DWI conviction, you will likely be able to benefit from the new McNeely rule.

Also, if your case is final and you have exhausted all of your appeals then you may still be able to receive the benefit of the new rule if the Minnesota Supreme Court determines that the McNeely case fits into one of two exceptions.

The first exception is only at issue when the rule is considered to be "substantive".[3] The new McNeely rule, however, is not substantive. Therefore, this exception likely will not apply.

However, the second exception may apply to the new McNeely rule which would mean that we could obtain reversals on DWI convictions that are very old. And there are strong arguments for determining that the McNeely rule should be applied to old cases.


The question of whether McNeely applies retroactively will have to be answered by Minnesota's Supreme Court soon after their upcoming decision in State of Minnesota v. Brooks.[4] The court will apply the Teague analysis and will likely find that the McNeely rule does constitute a "new rule" under the Teague definition.[5] This means that the court should determine that the McNeely rule does apply to cases that are not final.

However, the court will also need to consider whether the McNeely rule applies to finalized cases. In general, a "new rule" is not applied to finalized cases unless it falls within one of the two exceptions.[6] Because the McNeely rule is procedural and not substantive, it cannot fulfill the first exception but justifiable arguments do exist to say that the McNeely rule fulfills the second exception. Therefore, the McNeely rule will likely be applied retroactively to cases that are not yet final and may also apply to cases that have already been finalized. Call our Minneapolis criminal defense lawyers 24/7 at 612-444-5020!

[1] Id.

[2] Chambers v. State, 831 N.W.2d 311, 323 (Minn. 2013); citing Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 300-10 (1989).

[3] Chambers at 326.

[4] 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); and State v. Brooks, A11-1043, 2012 WL 1914073 (Minn. Ct. App. May 29, 2012), review denied (July 17, 2012), cert. granted, judgment vacated, 133 S. Ct. 1996 (U.S. 2013)

[5] Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288 (1989).

[6] Id.


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