The Minnesota Court of Appeals has affirmed the state’s implied consent law in an opinion that seems to say a law enforcement officer does not actually need to get a warrant if the officer could have gotten a warrant.
A three-judge panel released its opinion on State v. Bernard Monday, asserting that the Fourth Amendment does not bar criminalizing the refusal to submit to a breath alcohol test if the “circumstances established a basis for the officer to have alternatively pursued a constitutionally reasonable nonconsensual test by securing and executing a warrant.”
Bernard was charged with two counts of DWI –Test Refusal after he refused to submit to a breath test. Bernard was suspected of driving a vehicle while intoxicated. The charges were dismissed in Dakota County district court when the judge found that prosecutors had not proved the exigency necessary to justify a warrantless search. The Court of Appeals reversed that decision and remanded the case back to district court.
See the March 24 issue of Minnesota Lawyer for a more in-depth look at the case.