New DWI law may provide a way to reverse conviction


Recent Minnesota Court of Appeals case Hagerman v. Minnesota has reversed the refusal for a DWI test conviction unconstitutional. As per The Fourth Amendment, we are protected from unreasonable seizures and searches. In the context of a DWI, chemical test via blood, breath, or urine, is considered a search.

For a chemical test to be considered valid, police must have a warrant, or the test has to be supported by an exception to requiring a warrant. Previously, Minnesota Law defended testing without a warrant when it came down to DWIs, under the “search incident to arrest” and “exigent circumstances”.

The Supreme Court has since invalidated Minnesota’s exigency approach. These exigency exceptions instead have to be met with a determined case based on the total of circumstances. Essentially, there is no automatic exigent circumstance with every DWI case. This invalidated the “search-incident-to-arrest” exception that was enforced in urine and blood testing.

Under this new law, states can criminalize the refusal to give breath tests, however, they cannot make it a crime for refusal to submit urine or blood tests unless there is a search warrant or is supported by other exceptions.

The changes to the law can be applied retroactively, which means anyone convicted with prior DWI test refusal for failure to submit urine and blood tests without warrants can have the conviction reversed.

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