MN State Supreme Court Strikes Down Warrantless Urine Tests

Refusing to submit to a warrantless urine test is no longer a crime, the Minnesota State Supreme Court ruled in October, providing further clarity to the current status of the state’s heavily debated implied consent law.

Instead, officers who want to conduct a urine test on a person suspected of DWI will now be required to seek court warrants.

The ruling at the state level follows a previous one made by the U.S. Supreme Court in June. At the time, the high court struck down warrantless blood testing, yet upheld the ability for law enforcement to carry out warrantless breathalyzer tests.

Making the latest ruling, Minnesota Chief Justice Lorie Gildea argued that while urine tests were similar to breath tests in terms of being less invasive, they provide far more information beyond simply determining whether or not suspects are drunk.

Gildea stated that urine tests “can be used to detect and assess a wide range of disorders and can reveal whether an individual is pregnant, diabetic, or epileptic.”

“Despite the State’s ‘great’ need for alcohol concentration testing, the availability of a less-invasive breath test weighs against the reasonableness of requiring the more revealing and embarrassing urine test absent a warrant or exigent circumstances,” Gildea went on to say.

Privacy rights activists applauded the ruling, with ACLU-MN Executive Director Charles Samuelson saying it upheld protections guaranteed under the constitution’s 4th amendment. “Forcing Minnesotans to undergo an intrusive blood or urine search without a warrant, violates fundamental privacy rights,” he emphasized.

The latest ruling will perhaps be the final clarification regarding this issue. A state appeals court previously examined warrantless urine tests in January.