Are Minnesota's DWI Laws Unconstitutional?

A string of recent court decisions has Minnesota DWI statutes under fire. For some facing drunk driving charges today, the legal issues may not be clear until the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in on the constitutionality of Minnesota's laws in June.

Under Minnesota implied consent laws, it is a criminal act to refuse a warrantless breath, blood or urine test in the course of a DWI arrest. The state is one of only a few that make such refusals criminal offenses.

Despite the unforgiving language in the criminal statutes, there is good news for the accused: Recent court decisions have sided against state law and in favor of DWI defendants. In December of 2015, the State Court of Appeals ruled that a driver cannot be charged with test refusal if that driver refuses a warrantless blood or urine test.

The ruling is already influencing decisions in Minnesota DWI cases. On December 31st, a district court judge threw out a urine test result on the basis that it was obtained unconstitutionally.

A Fluid Situation For DWI Defendants

For anyone facing DWI/DUI charges in Minnesota, the murky state of drunk driving laws makes it difficult to know how their cases will proceed. The nation's highest court will provide clarity this summer. In June, the United States Supreme Court will review Minnesota's test refusal laws to determine if they violate the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Until then, Minnesota's DWI laws are in an uncertain state. The best thing you can do if you have been arrested for drunk driving is to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who stays on top of all developments in the law. Remember, always talk to an attorney first. Anything you say to police can be used against you.

Jeffrey Ring