Can Minnesota Drivers Refuse Alcohol Tests? Supreme Court to Weigh In

scotusCan you refuse a breathalyzer in Minnesota? The nation’s highest court is set to consider a challenge to DWI laws in both Minnesota and North Dakota. According to a report from, the U.S. Supreme Court will examine a total of 3 cases next year – each objecting to laws that criminalize a driver’s refusal to submit to alcohol tests.

The Minnesota part of the case in particular stems from a man’s refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test. Police supposedly smelled alcohol on William Bernard’s breath and noticed his eyes were bloodshot after confronting him as he attempted to pull a boat from a river with his vehicle in South St. Paul.

Bernard was later charged with a 1st degree account related to the breath test refusal, in addition to the drunk driving charge. Throughout the process, Bernard has argued the 1st degree refusal charge violated his 4th amendment rights, rights that protect against unreasonable search and seizures.

Minnesota and South Dakota courts in the past have protected the practice of tacking on additional chargers in instances where suspects have refused to submit to breathalyzers. Such a defense is highlighted in a Minnesota statute covering “implied consent.”

Representatives, meanwhile, for all three cases are expected to argue that warrantless searches are only valid when “extraordinary circumstances” are present.

The latest news follows a ruling from October in which a state appeals court found that Minnesota authorities were required to seek warrants in instances where they wanted to draw blood. At the time, Judge Jill Flaskamp Holbrooks referred to such testing as “serious intrusions into the human body.”