A recent ruling by the Minnesota Supreme Court is throwing thousands of DWI convictions into jeopardy, according to a report from 5 Eyewitness News (KSTP).
The convictions themselves are based on the refusal of defendants to submit to chemical impairment tests and ultimately, the court’s ruling could see numerous people have their records wiped. The case affects blood and urine tests, but does not cover breath tests.
The case heard by the court itself pertains to a Minnesota man who was pulled over twice – in 2009 and 2014. When arresting officers requested a chemical test (blood/urine), he refused both times, and received further charges for refusal. However, the man petitioned those convictions in 2016 – requesting to have them overturned. During appeal, he argued that officers violated his constitutional rights, since they didn’t obtain warrants required to conduct such tests in the first place.
With the latest ruling from the court, the man has won his case and thus, thousands of other people in similar situations could have those convictions tossed as well. According to Charles Ramsay, an attorney for a local law firm who talked to KSTP, it is possible for people who faced similar circumstances as the man who won the case to file motions for dismissal.
This is hardly the first time courts have examined the issue. In October, the court heard a similar case pertaining to warrantless urine tests and ruled in favor of the convicted driver. At the time, the ACLU of MN applauded the ruling, with the group’s executive director, Charles Samuelson, stating, “Forcing Minnesotans to undergo an intrusive blood or urine search without a warrant, violates fundamental privacy rights.”
Minnesota has maintained what’s called an Implied Consent law. Technically, by simply driving on the roads, you automatically consent to a test. However, the consent law has been challenged numerous times in the court of law, as evidenced by the most recent case and the ruling made in October.
According to the Minnesota DPS, one in every seven Minnesota drivers has a DWI conviction.