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Minnesota’s DWI Law About to Get a Close-Up

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In just our last blog, we quoted Justice Alan Page’s infamous lambasting of his colleagues when he said the Minnesota Supreme Court (at least the majority) wished it lived in a world without McNeely. Well, the Supreme Court of the United States may share Justice Page’s feelings about this issue because it has granted review of State v. Bernard – the case in which Justice Page issued those sentiments.

In State v. Bernard, the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the State’s ability to criminalize a person’s refusal to submit to a warrantless breath test. In doing so, it reaffirmed Minnesota’s DWI law foundation – the misnomer called the Implied Consent law, in which drivers are said to have implied their consent to be subject to future testing for DWIs, regardless of the mandates outlined in the Fourth Amendment.

By granting review in the Bernard case, along with two North Dakota cases that present similar issues, the Supreme Court of the United States is most assuredly going to take a hard look at the legality of Minnesota’s Implied Consent law – most notably, the ability to charge individuals for refusing to give up their Fourth Amendment right to be free from a warrantless breath test. The implications of this case are significant.

For starters, anyone charged with a DWI – no matter if they submitted to a test or refused – is probably wise to avoid resolving their case until the Supreme Court has announced its decision in the Bernard case. Even if the DWI defendant “consented” to a breath test, Due Process implications abound. Second, if the Supreme Court rules that Minnesota cannot criminalize anyone that refuses testing, Minnesota’s entire DWI law will need to go under a significant overhaul.

We will keep you updated on the latest in the ever-evolving DWI landscape. And if you are facing DWI charges, it is critical to get a Minnesota DWI defense attorney that is up-to-date on the latest and not afraid to push the envelope by raising critical and necessary constitutional arguments.



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