The MN Court of Appeals issued an opinion today upholding the reinstatement of a driver’s license when the arresting officer misled a driver by stating that refusing a urine test is a crime.
In the case decided today, the Commissioner of Public Safety revoked the driver’s license after he refused urine and blood tests. The officer told the driver it was a crime to refuse a urine test. The officer was reading from Minnesota’s Implied Consent Advisory, which they are required to do. However, the legislature had not changed the wording of the advisory to comport with the changes in the law at the time. Even though the the officer did not intentionally mislead the driver or act in bad faith, the advisory is inaccurate and still violates due process. Therefore, the reading, on its face, is misleading and violates Due Process.
Over the past few years, several appeals have reshaped what law enforcement can and cannot do when suspecting someone of driving under the influence. The changes include that, in most circumstances, officers must obtain a search warrant to obtain a blood or urine test from a suspected intoxicated driver. Although this appeal is of a civil license revocation case, not an appeal of a criminal case, the Court conducted a due process analysis when the previous criminal appeals dealt with unreasonable searches under the 4th Amendment.
The caveat to this ruling today is that the appellate courts only require a warrant for blood or urine testing, not breath tests. The reasoning is that you have a greater expectation of privacy when compared to blowing into a breathalyzer machine. Therefore, while refusing a breath test is a crime, refusal to allow law enforcement to draw blood from your body or provide a urine sample while they watch is not.
Read the full court decision here.
Coley Grostyan is a Minneapolis based MN DWI defense attorney who represents individuals accused of driving while intoxicated throughout the State of Minnesota.