U.S. Supreme Court and MN DUI Breath Test Law

We noted earlier that the U.S. Supreme Court was going to weigh in on Minnesota’s implied consent law and whether such laws are constitutional.

Well, the Court has finally rendered its verdict, and it definitely impacts the state’s DWI laws. The Court determined that simply having an implied consent law is not considered “coercive,” at least not enough to violate the Fourth Amendment, and is therefore constitutional. That means that Minnesota can pass laws that make it a separate crime for a person who is suspected of drinking and driving to refuse to take a chemical test to detect the presence of alcohol in their bloodstream.

What’s changed is that the method the officer uses to test a person for the presence of alcohol now matters. To draw blood for testing, the officer must obtain a warrant. But no warrant is needed to test a person’s breath. The Court’s reasoning is that a blood draw is far more invasive than testing someone’s breath.

The Court did not decide if an officer needs to get a warrant to request a urine sample for testing, though it’s anticipated that urine will be treated similarly to blood draws. It’s likely that many cases will be judged on their specific facts to determine whether a test was reasonable or not under the circumstances.