New Supreme Court ruling will influence drunk driving charges

If Minneapolis police arrest you after you are involved in a fatal accident, there is a very real possibility that you could face vehicular manslaughter or vehicular homicide charges. When faced with these kinds of charges, it is important to remember that a strong criminal defense attorney can help clear your name or have your charges reduced. Trying to handle such serious charges alone is not only extremely difficult, but a mistake could cost years of your freedom.

It now may be a little harder for police to convict people of these kinds of vehicular crimes, however, following a recent Supreme Court decision. Speaking for the majority, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that law enforcement’s use of warrantless blood draws to confirm the presence of alcohol in a defendant’s system is a violation of the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. In the future, there must be some sort of exigent circumstance for officers to proceed without a warrant.

How this is expected to affect Minneapolis-St. Paul law enforcement, however, remains to be seen. Until further information is given or more cases are litigated, it would appear that police officers must get a warrant without some very clear reason as to why they cannot wait to draw blood. Even then, a criminal defense lawyer will likely argue that the reason provided was not, in fact, exigent.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers also wrote a brief in support of the majority’s position, citing the fact that 21 states already require a warrant before a blood draw. They note that there is nothing that prevents these states from processing and prosecuting drunk driving suspects.

Source: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Supreme Court ruling on blood draws could have big impact on drunken driving cases,” Bruce Vielmetti, April 17, 2013

Being charged with something like vehicular manslaughter or homicide is extremely serious. Find out more about how we have helped defendants deal with these criminal charges by visiting our website.

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-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. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Involve a criminal appeal attorney soon after you learn the prosecution is appealing your sentence. Your attorney will walk you through the involving and confusing sentencing guidelines. An attorney's involvement will also help you develop a defense strategy for the appeal.