Minnesota Breathalyzer Refusal Law Challenged in US Supreme Court

RNC White Police Officers

Photo by Tony Webster: Saint Paul, Minnesota team of all white police officers covered in riot gear march and line up during the 2008 Republican National Convention (RNC) at the Xcel Energy Center.
Minnesota's so-called implied consent law has been on the books around 23 years, according to a group of Twin Cities attorneys, but the law that says you can be charged with a crime for not submitting to a breathalyzer test will now head to the highest court in the land, the U.S. Supreme Court.

The local law firm indicated in a newsletter today that William Bernard will be challenging the implied consent law stemming from an incident in 2012, in which Bernard was stopped under suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). Bernard refused all tests and is now prepared to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court. The court date is April 20.

The law firm, who does not represent Bernard in this particular case, wrote in a blog post that the law has been criticized for not allowing for a reasonable expectation of privacy. Those in favor of the law state that because driving a motor vehicle on a public roadway is a privilege, the driver's fourth amendment rights do not apply. However, that same logic does not apply to home ownership. The attorneys side with defendants on this matter, stating that the police should and must follow a due process of law by obtaining a warrant or permission from the suspect in order to collect blood alcohol content evidence for a case.

According to the Star Tribune, the court agreed to hear the case on Friday. Minnesota's implied consent law is unique across the country. A Minnesota attorney, Jeff Sheridan, is representing Bernard. The State of Minnesota hired an outside law from from Washington D.C. Sheridan has argued consistently since 2002 that the law is not constitutional, according to the newspaper report. He believes the DUI law shouldn't be treated as special over any other law.

Bernard was charged with a felony in the incident by the State of Minnesota.


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