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Missouri v. McNeely, Test Refusal & DWI Defense

If you have been arrested in Minnesota for a DWI, a recent Supreme Court Case increase your chances of a good outcome.

Good news for people with pending DWI cases! While the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Missouri v. McNeely case is very new and not all the implications are known at this time, here is some basic Information: Taking Blood from a DWI suspect is a search. The "McNeely" decision says that where police officers can reasonably obtain a warrant before having a blood sample drawn without significantly undermining the efficacy of the search, they should seek a search warrant before doing the blood draw. "McNeely" involved a blood test not a breath or urine test. So, the implications to breath and urine tests is not known at this time.

However, there could be implications of this decision for people with pending DWI in the State of Minnesota as Minnesota’s Implied Consent Advisory states that, “refusal to take a test is a crime.” While the Appellate Courts in the State of Minnesota have not decided this issue as of yet, this statement in paragraph 2 of the Advisory may be construed by the Courts to mean that Minnesota compels the suspect to submit to testing. In other words, one can argue that the blood draws are not free and voluntary.

Therefore, the argument for the defense is that the State of Minnesota and the police should seek search warrants prior to doing blood draws. Obviously, taking blood out of someone’s arm with a syringe is a very invasive procedure!

Since the same Implied Consent Advisory is read to suspects in all DWI cases including urine and breath test cases, it can be argued by the Defense that these tests are also compelled and warrants should be obtained prior to the police officers’ request that the suspect submit to any testing down at the Station. As noted, the Court of Appeals in Minnesota has not ruled on this issue yet, so we do not know how this issue will be decided, but the Ohlenberg Law Office may be able to use this new decision to help you win or settle your case in the manner that is most beneficial to you.

I should add that the McNeely decision is not a “cure all” that is going to allow every DWI suspect to win his or her case because it only affects cases where the test result is going to be the deciding factor. Drivers charged with DWI are also charged with being 'under the influence' as observed by the officer under Minnesota Statute 169A.20, subd 1(1). So, if it is clear from looking at the field tests and the driving and other conduct that is seen on the DVD’s and other videos that are part of the evidence in the case that the suspect is intoxicated, then the McNeely decision is not going to be a “game changer.” However, it definitely needs to be considered by a person currently facing DWI charges in the Twin Cities.

If you have been arrested for a DWI in Minnesota, call Richard Ohlenberg for a free initial consultation.