MN Appeals Court: Warrantless Urine Tests for DWI Are Unconstitutional

Warrantless urine tests are indeed unconstitutional, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled in late December. Therefore, those suspected of driving drunk should not be charged for refusing to comply with them.

The court’s decision stems from the case of Ryan Thompson, a man stopped in 2012 for driving under the influence after leaving a bar in Owatonna. Thompson hit the curb, failed a field sobriety test, and was subsequently charged with 2nd degree refusal for failing to agree to a urine test.

According to a report from the Pioneer Press, the court found that the charge affected “his fundamental right to be free from unconstitutional searches.” Such reasoning is evident in the U.S. Constitution’s 4th amendment.

The latest ruling essentially expands on what the court determined in October when it also found that like urine tests, warrantless blood tests were also unconstitutional. At the time, Judge Jill Flaskamp described blood tests as “serious intrusions into the human body.”

This, however, isn’t the last we’ll hear of the issue. It will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court whether states – including Minnesota and North Dakota – have the right to criminalize a suspect’s refusal to agree to warrantless blood, urine, and breath tests. The rationale for charging suspects in such a way is backed by Minnesota’s controversial Implied Consent provision.

In other DWI-related news, meanwhile, Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety recently announced that over 2,500 DWI arrests were made in the state during the holiday season – a time period that spanned from Thanksgiving until just right after New Year’s Day. The good news, however: No fatalities related to those statistics were reported, according to CBS Minnesota.