U.S. Supreme Court to examine MN's 'implied consent' drunk-driving law


A drunk-driving law in Minnesota will be put under the microscope of the U.S. Supreme Court in a series of hearings that could have national ramifications.

The Pioneer Press reports that the court will hear three cases challenging "implied consent" laws in Minnesota and North Dakota, which makes it a crime for people to refuse a blood, breath or urine test even when police don't have a search warrant.

The newspaper notes that around a dozen states have similar laws, but in Minnesota it has been the subject of challenges that say it violates suspects' 4th Amendment rights.

The Minnesota case that will be put before The Supreme Court – which will make a ruling on whether the implied consent law is constitutional – relates to William Bernard Jr.

He was charged in August 2012 with two felony counts of refusing to submit to a sobriety test after he was arrested by South St. Paul police 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.

His conviction under the implied consent law was upheld by Minnesota's Supreme Court in February after initially being dismissed by a district court judge, who said that officers should have gotten a search warrant to force him to take the test.

However it was noted at the time that the Minnesota Supreme Court's ruling does appear to be in conflict with a 2013 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which says that police must obtain a warrant in most circumstances if a driver refuses a breathalyzer test.

The Star Tribune reports the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments from local attorney Jeff Sheridan, who has been arguing since 2002 the law is unconstitutional, arguing that a DWI shouldn't be treated differently from any other crime.

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