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Minnesota Supreme Court Rules Ok To Charge People Who Refuse Breathalyzer Test

Under Minnesota law, it is a crime for a driver to refuse a request to take a chemical test to detect the presence of alcohol if certain conditions are met, including if the driver has been validly arrested for driving while impaired. Earlier this month, the Minnesota State Supreme Court ruled that Minnesota’s law does not violate one’s due process constitutional rights and upheld the validity of Minnesota’s refusal law.

The dispute over Minnesota’s law arose from 2012 incident involving three intoxicated men who were attempting to get a boat out of the water at a boat launch. Their truck apparently became stuck in the river while they were trying to pull out their boat. Police arrived at the scene and noticed that one man was in his underwear. The officers also could smell a strong odor of alcohol from the group. One man, William Robert Bernard, admitted that he had been drinking, but he and the other men denied driving the truck. Witnesses identified Bernard as the driver of the truck. The officers noted that Bernard smelled of alcohol, had bloodshot and watery eyes, and held the keys to the truck. Bernard refused to perform field sobriety tests.

The officers arrested Bernard on suspicion of driving while impaired. Officers advised Bernard that Minnesota law required him to take a chemical test and that it was a crime if he refused to take the test. Bernard refused to take the test and officers charged Bernard with two counts of first-degree test refusal.

Bernard Claimed Minnesota Law Violated Due Process Rights

Bernard challenged his arrest and claimed that Minnesota’s “test refusal statute violated due process because the statute makes it a crime to refuse an unreasonable, warrantless search of a driver’s breath.” The case eventually made it all the way up to Minnesota’s highest court.

The state’s supreme court rule that that it is ok to a charge people who refuse to take blood-alcohol tests. The court stated that the breath test the police asked Bernard to take “would have been constitutional as a search incident to a valid arrest, and as a result, charging Bernard with criminal test refusal does not implicate a fundamental right.”

Texas Refusal to Consent Law

Under Texas law, if a person is arrested and refuses to submit to the taking of a breath or blood specimen, then the state can:

(1) suspend the person’s license to operate a motor vehicle on a public highway for 180 days; or;
(2) if the person is a resident without a license, issue an order denying the issuance of a license to the person for 180 days.

If the person has one or more alcohol-related or drug-related enforcement contacts during the preceding 10 years of the arrest, then the period of suspension or denial is 2 years.

If you have any questions regarding Texas DWI laws, you should contact an experienced Texas DWI attorney.


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