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Supreme Court Decision Could Change Many DWI Cases

Supreme Court Decision Could Change Many DWI Cases

In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court outlined new testing procedures for drunk drivers that allow law enforcement to perform breath tests without a warrant. A DWI attorney St. Paul can explain the impact of this new ruling to individuals charged with a DWI in Minnesota.

U.S. Supreme Court Ruling

In June 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court instigated a new ruling that impacts DWI cases. Previous laws required law enforcement to get a warrant to perform breath tests and blood tests on individuals suspected of drunk driving. Privacy laws allowed those individuals the right to refuse a breath test and blood test without a warrant. Many people who did refuse these tests were charged with DWI crimes and sentenced to jail time and steep fines.

The new Supreme Court ruling allows law enforcement to perform breath tests without a warrant, but not blood tests, because they are considered more invasive procedures that are protected by the Fourth Amendment. To reach the new ruling, the Supreme Court looked at three lower court rulings which involved state laws that criminalized the refusal of blood and breath tests. In North Dakota, a man received a 30-day sentence and fines for refusing a warrant-less blood test. Another man lost his drivers license when law enforcement told him that refusing a warrant-less blood test was a crime. In Minnesota, a man hired a DWI attorney St. Paul to challenge his prosecution after refusing a warrant-less breath test.

DWI Offenses in Minnesota

A Minnesota DWI charge is a criminal offense that carries serious consequences. It can result in the the revocation of a driver’s license, thousands of dollars in fines, and extended jail time. Criminal penalties imposed for a DWI in Minnesota are based on the number of prior aggravating factors a driver has at the time of the offense, however a first offense DWI, a gross misdemeanor charge, can be filed if a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is .20 or above. If charged with a first-degree felony DWI, a person can be sentenced to a minimum jail term of 180 days, a maximum jail term of five to seven years, as well as fines of up to $14,000. In addition to criminal penalties for a DWI, Minnesota also imposes civil sanctions that include revocation of a driver’s license, impoundment of a license plate, and forfeiture of a vehicle.

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