Skip to main content

No warrant needed: Ruling OKs arrest if you refuse drunk driving test

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the state’s “implied consent” law that gives police the right to arrest a driver for refusing to be tested for intoxication.

The court Wednesday upheld an earlier appeals court ruling which basically said a law enforcement officer does not actually need to get a warrant to conduct a DWI test on a driver if the officer has probable cause to obtain one, according to FOX9.

The 5-2 opinion (which you can read here) came in the case of William Bernard Jr., who was charged in August 2012 with two felony counts of refusing to submit to a sobriety test.

South St. Paul police arrested him at a public boat ramp after witnesses said he was the driver of a truck that had gotten stuck while trying to pull a boat out of the water. Bernard denied being the driver, but he was holding the keys in his hand and smelled strongly of alcohol.

Bernard refused to take a breath test to determine his blood alcohol content. Police charged him with DWI under Minnesota's “implied consent law,” which requires a driver to either submit to testing when stopped for a suspected DWI or face criminal charges that are often harsher. Drivers grant that consent when they get a license.

A district court judge dismissed the charge against Bernard, saying the officers should have gotten a search warrant that would have forced Bernard to take the test. But the Appeals Court overturned that decision in March.

Police want the right to test a driver without a warrant because the alcohol in the person’s system could dissipate by the time a search warrant was obtained.

The ruling appears to conflict with a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision that said police must obtain a warrant, under most circumstances, if the driver refuses a breathalyzer test.

Next Up

gas

State to help 44 Minnesota gas stations add E15 pumps

The yellow 88 button is coming to more gas stations in Minnesota.

Screen Shot 2022-09-30 at 4.54.42 PM

FBI, police investigating bank robbery at Edina's 50th and France

An ATM technician was robbed by four men at a U.S. Bank.

Ethan Glynn

Paralyzed Bloomington football player begins rehabilitation in Colorado

Ethan Glynn is at a world-renowned rehabilitation hospital.

Press Bar fire

Owner of St. Cloud bar gets 6 years for arson, ordered to repay $3M

A February 2020 fire at the Press Bar and Parlor was later determined to be an insurance job.

IMG_5455

Bloomington, Richfield districts tighten security ahead of weekend football

Enhanced safety measures will be in place this weekend.

Screen Shot 2022-09-30 at 2.23.15 PM

Walz sends MN first responders to help with hurricane recovery in Florida

Eight members of the Minnesota All Hazards Incident Management Team will travel to Florida.

drought

It was the driest September in Twin Cities modern history

Less than a quarter inch of rain fell in September.

Jay James Olson

Sauk Rapids man pleads guilty to making, selling ghost guns

The 21-year-old would sell unserialized guns, silencers, auto-sears, and high-capacity magazines.

Related