Minnesota Warrantless DWI Tests in Jeopardy as U.S. Supreme Court considers McNeely Case

An extremely important DWI case from Missouri dealing with warrantless DWI testing was argued before the United States Supreme Court on January 9, 2013.  Although this McNeely case came from Missouri, based on Missouri law and is being argued in Washington, D.C. before the highest court in the land, it has the potential to destroy the theoretical underpinnings of Minnesota DWI and implied consent case law.

In McNeely, the Missouri Supreme Court specifically discussed our Minnesota case law from our state supreme court in cases called Shriner and Netland, which both held that alcohol causes a “single factor” “per se” “exigency” which allows police to conduct a warrantless search, such as a blood draw, without a warrant, as long as they have probable cause of DWI or CVO (DWI with injuries to someone other than the suspected DWI driver).  In McNeely, however, the Missouri Supreme Court explicitly examined and rejected the reasoning of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Indeed, Missouri found that the alcohol in DWI and CVO cases does NOT create a “single factor” per se exigency allowing a warrantless search or warrantless blood draw, without more “special facts” such as an extremely injured driver or other person and a long delay between driving and testing.

Since this case was argued in the U.S. Supreme Court on January 9, 2013 a decision on warrantless DWI testing is expected before the end of the Court’s term on June 30, 2013.  Meanwhile, many Minnesota DWI Defense Attorney’s such as Keller Criminal Defense Attorneys are asking their Minnesota DWI cases to be put on hold or stayed until the high court rules in McNeely, the Missouri case.  If the U.S. high court upholds Missouri’s decision in McNeely, then all the theoretical underpinnings of Minnesota’s DWI laws are potentially destroyed, since Missouri specifically disagreed with Minnesota court decisions finding that the dissipating nature of alcohol allows warrantless testing in all DWI cases, regardless of the amount of time passed between driving and a test request, and regardless of whether there was an accident or injuries, etc.  Thus, if McNeelyis affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, the high Court is effectively overruling the Minnesota bedrock DWI case law decisions of Shriner and Netland.  Accordingly, if the driver wins in the highest court in the land, it may mean that thousands of Minnesota drivers will have their freedoms protected and their DWI tests thrown out and their DWI charges dismissedMeanwhile, if your case has already been resolved but you wish to raise the McNeely issue because you were subject to a warrantless search, contact a Minnesota Criminal Appeals attorney today.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

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