US Supreme Court will hear arguments on Minnesota's breathalyzer law


The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday to determine if Minnesota's DWI law is unconstitutional.

The court will hear three cases that challenge "implied consent" laws in Minnesota and North Dakota, which make it a crime for people suspected of drunken driving to refuse blood, breath or urine tests.

The Minnesota case that's being argued before the Supreme Court – which will answer the question whether the state, without a warrant, can make it a crime for someone to refuse a chemical test to detect a person's blood-alcohol level – 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 2015 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.

Transcripts of Wednesday's arguments are expected to be posted online here later in the day, while audio of the arguments will be posted by Friday, according to the Supreme Court's website.

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