Supreme Court rules police can't force DUI blood tests

9:07 PM, Apr 17, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - The Supreme Court has ruled that police must usually try to obtain a search warrant from a judge before ordering blood tests for drunken-driving suspects.

With only hours behind the 8-to-1 decision on Wednesday, lawyers, especially on the side of criminal defense, were ready to weigh in.

"This is a huge case for DWI law," Marsh Halberg, a partner of Halberg Criminal Defense said.

Halberg and his team is looking at the ruling as a window of opportunity to attack a Minnesota law. It says that if you refuse chemical testing of blood, breath or urine then you will be charged with a crime that can be more harmful than a first time basic DWI.

Halberg says if it's illegal now to get a blood test without a warrant then how is it fair to penalize a driver in Minnesota for just saying no?

"It is our position that all this refusal law that Minnesota has with a couple of other states is all unconstitutional, we believe there is a very strong argument for that," Halberg said.

It's a leap he says he will start arguing going forward, but not everyone agrees that it's a legitimate leap.

"I think it's a non consensual blood draw case and there aren't that many non consensual blood draw cases that I've prosecuted in a decade of prosecuting cases," prosecutor Chris Renz said.

Renz says most people consent to one of the chemical tests offered to them so the idea that someone consenting is being denied a right is a non-starter.

But that's not stopping at least one defense team that believes the decision could change Minnesota laws in the future.

"This is by far and away the most fundamental ruling in DWI law since I've been practicing," criminal defense attorney Dave Risk said.

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