Supreme Court Considers Whether Minnesota DWI laws are Unconstitutional
On April 20, 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court heard Oral Arguments in Minnesota v. Bernard, as well as two relative North Dakota cases.
At issue in Bernard is whether the State can require drivers to provide a breath test sample when the State does not have a warrant, and where refusal of that test sample is criminalized by significant penalties, including jail time, as well as civil license related penalties.
The Court harped on the State’s lawyers as to why they don’t just get a warrant rather than asking the Court to make a new “bright line” exception, which It is not inclined to do.
There were distinctions suggested in oral argument between a blood and breath test, and all parties failed to point out that the blood tests are more accurate and preferable to the breath tests, which are not as reliable.
We are hopeful that the Court will not make any distinction between the two, and that It will require the State, in accordance with the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, to just get a warrant.
There is no State law in Minnesota prohibiting public intoxication. However, the City of Mankato has declared it illegal to conduct yourself loudly in public, while under the influence of alcohol. The police mainly enforce this ordinance against college students, with clean records, forever tainting their records with the mark of a criminal offense if convicted.
Employment opportunities are compromised for the rest of their lives, because the City of Mankato has been charging out Disruptive Intoxication without probable cause.
But, Mankato’s Disruptive Intoxication Ordinance is flawed. The Ordinance does not define the level necessary to fail the PBT (Preliminary Breath Test). Thus, if you do provide a PBT, you should not be convicted.
If you’ve received a citation for Disruptive Intoxication in the City of Mankato after providing a breath sample, you may have an opportunity to beat the charge. We can help. Call us (507) 345-6789.
Don’t let “Public Intoxication” appear on your record, discouraging potential employers from considering you as a viable candidate.
This blog is in response to The Drive's "The U-turn is legal, if U follow all the rules" by Tim Harlow, appearing in the December 28, 2015 edition of the Star Tribune.
One of the pleasures I have of practicing law in rural communities, primarily in South Central Minnesota, is to learn the rules and intricacies of a particular community. This is tantamount to learning how to speak Minnesotan.
I have found that little towns do not like to be the end point of someone’s turn around.
Frequently, for reasons that I’m beginning to understand, small towns prohibit U-turns on their streets. I remember walking into a county attorney’s office one time, in a smaller town, and the legal secretary berated me for pulling a U-turn in front of their building. How dare I? In my estimation, it was a perfectly legal U-turn, completed safely. I got to my destination, and that was my purpose, and there was no sign prohibiting my behavior.
Many small towns have no U-turn municipal laws prohibiting that U-turn, even if there is no sign. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.
The Mankato Free Press has issued a wonderful editorial concerning the Black Lives Matter protest at the Mall of America. The question is: can the Mall of America prevent the protests?
The United States Supreme Court has said that they can, even though they are a facility open to the public, because in the final analysis, they are private property.
Judge Karen Janisch, however, considered the larger scale issues, which the Mankato Free Press calls “constitutional and legal minutiae of free speech…”
This is not legal minutiae.
Our US Constitution was founded, in many ways, by the Great Law of Peace that existed among the Iroquois’ nations, starting in the 12th century, here in North America. Our Supreme Court is thought to be a variant of the Women’s Council.
The Great Law of Peace was a means for creating harmony, unity, and respect among human beings. The hallmark is a recognition of our individual liberty. Not collectively, but as an individual do we retain the right of liberty, including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” separation of powers, and three branches of government.
Judge Karen Janisch recognized the right of the individual in reaching a decision that honors our ability to go to public places and be heard, as an individual.
Remember the favor President George Bush gave to Minnesotans in the First Congressional District, when two high school students were ordered out of the quarry where President Bush was to give his re-election speech. Their teacher protested a student’s right to have a John Kerry bumper sticker on his billfold. This blatant prohibition of free speech enraged a community, and that high school teacher, Tim Walz, was elected to Congress.
The right of protest is not legal minutiae. It is a foundation of our way of being.
Thank you, Mankato Free Press, for recognizing that free speech must be jealously guarded.
On December 11, 2015 the United States Supreme Court accepted review of Bernard vs. Minnesotaon the issue surrounding the unconstitutionality of Minnesota’s DWI laws. Previously, the Minnesota Supreme Court decided that a Datamaster breath test in a DWI investigation was a search incident to arrest. Therefore, the State did not require a suspect’s consent, nor a search warrant. The Minnesota Court found that Minnesota’s DWI law, which makes it a crime for refusing the breath test, does not violate our constitutional rights.
We have long argued that it is within our fundamental constitutional right to refuse warrantless searches. Minnesota case law on this issue has been going further down the rabbit hole ever since the Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision in McNeelyinvalidated the way Minnesota had been processing DWI suspects. The Minnesota Supreme Court has been burying Its head in the sand as to these constitutional violations.
Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court has determined to take the case up for review, and to settle the matter for all. It is likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will issue a decision on in this case in June of 2016. If you are currently charged with DWI in Minnesota, you have a reason to put your case, and possibly your driver’s license revocation, on hold until this matter is resolved. If you’ve recently been charged, please call to learn how we can help you benefit by awaiting the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.