We have discussed the issue of warrants in drunk driving investigations—an issue that was highlighted recently when the United States Supreme Court ruled that in a routine DWI investigation law enforcement acted improperly in seeking a blood sample without a warrant. The high court ruled the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated.
Prosecutors across the country began arguing in the wake of the McNeely decision finding the warrantless blood draw that the case only included blood tests. But judges in Minnesota have been giving some mixed rulings in other types of DWI investigations.
The St. Cloud Times recently reported that four Stearns County judges have found Minnesota’s implied Consent law is unconstitutional. Two others reportedly have disagreed in specific cases, according to the Times. An Anoka County judge ruled that an implied breath test after a traffic stop for a malfunctioning tail light was unconstitutional because it was conducted without a warrant.
Followers of this blog may not be surprised to hear that a growing number of Minnesota judges are applying U.S. Supreme Court precedent to Minnesota’s implied consent laws. Last month we discussed the issue as judges in Minnesota and Arizona began addressing the issue anew after the nation’s highest court issued its ruling. But, with a smattering of rulings coming out with a different result, the issue may be headed for a criminal appellate ruling.
A person accused of a crime has the right to defend against the charges in court. Many Minnesotans understand the concept, but it is important to note that a person convicted of a crime, including DWI, continue to have rights in court. A person can appeal the conviction, but timing is important.
Anyone who feels that the trial court process resulted in a wrongful DWI conviction can consult with legal counsel knowledgeable in criminal appeals to learn what appellate defenses may be available in a specific set of circumstances.
Source: The St. Cloud Times, “DWI case could mean changes for law enforcement,” Davis Unze, June 29, 2013