Blood Tests for DWI Require Warrants, MN Appeals Court Rules

Authorities who want use blood tests to determine intoxication levels of suspected drunk drivers will now have to acquire warrants.

In a ruling made last month, the Minnesota Appeals Court found that taking blood from a suspect is essentially a search, something the U.S. Constitution provides citizens protections against in the 4th amendment.

Judge Jill Flaskamp Holbrooks in the court’s filing referred to blood tests as “serious intrusions into the human body,” noting that unlike breath, blood did not “naturally and regularly exit the body.”

In the past, Minnesotans who’d refused blood tests faced additional charges under the state’s implied consent law – something that automatically meant drivers implicitly agreed to taking to them, even if they had expressively not.

Minnesota’s implied consent law was found to be constitutional by the state supreme court in February. However, the latest ruling means it will now only apply to cases in which those suspected of driving drunk refuse to take breathalyzer tests.

The court’s finding also overturns the conviction of Todd Trahan, suspected of driving drunk in 2012 and charged for initially refusing to comply with a blood test.

The team that prosecuted Trahan, meanwhile, is expected to file an appeal with the state’s supreme court – meaning that this is undoubtedly not the last time we’ll hear about the issue.