Written by attorney Max A. Keller

Warrantless Blood Tests in Minnesota DWI's under challenge in McNeely U.S. Supreme Court case

An extremely important DWI case from Missouri was argued before the United States Supreme Court on January 9, 2013. Although this McNeely case came from Missouri, based on Missouri law and is being argued in Washington, D.C. before the highest court in the land, it has the potential to destroy the theoretical underpinnings of Minnesota DWI and implied consent case law.

In McNeely, the Missouri Supreme Court specifically discussed our Minnesota case law from our state supreme court in cases called Shriner and Netland, which both held that alcohol causes a "single factor" "per se" "exigency" which allows police to conduct a warrantless search, such as a blood draw, without a warrant, as long as they have probable cause of DWI or CVO (DWI with injuries to someone other than the suspected DWI driver). In McNeely, however, the Missouri Supreme Court explicitly examined and rejected the reasoning of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Indeed, Missouri found that the alcohol in DWI and CVO cases does NOT create a "single factor" per se exigency allowing a warrantless search or warrantless blood draw, without more "special facts" such as an extremely injured driver or other person and a long delay between driving and testing.

Since this case was argued in the U.S. Supreme Court on January 9, 2013 a decision on warrantless DWI testing is expected before the end of the Court's term on June 30, 2013. Meanwhile, many Minnesota DWI Defense Attorney's such as Keller Law Offices are asking their Minnesota DWI cases to be put on hold or stayed until the high court rules in McNeely, the Missouri case. If the U.S. high court upholds Missouri's decision in McNeely, then all the theoretical underpinnings of Minnesota's DWI laws are potentially destroyed, since Missouri specifically disagreed with Minnesota court decisions finding that the dissipating nature of alcohol allows warrantless testing in all DWI cases, regardless of the amount of time passed between driving and a test request, and regardless of whether there was an accident or injuries, etc.

Thus, if McNeely is affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, the high Court is effectively overruling the Minnesota bedrock DWI case law decisions of Shriner and Netland. Accordingly, if the driver wins in the highest court in the land, it may mean that thousands of Minnesota drivers will have their freedoms protected and their DWI tests thrown out and their DWI charges dismissed.

Additional resources provided by the author

Free Q&A with lawyers in your area

Avvo DUI email series

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer