Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Page 5


Court of Appeals: Warrantless Urine Tests in DUI Cases Are Unconstitutional


From Staff and Wire Service Reports


The Minnesota Court of Appeals held yesterday that a state law making it a crime for someone arrested for drunken driving to refuse a urine test without a warrant is unconstitutional.

The appeals court yesterday reversed the conviction of a driver who refused to submit to a blood or urine test.

While the Minnesota Supreme Court has said warrantless breath tests are constitutional, the Court of Appeals ruled in October that warrantless blood tests are not. Yesterday’s ruling applied similar logic to warrantless urine tests.

The court said that a urine sample cannot be upheld under the “incident-to-arrest” exception to the requirement of a search warrant, saying:

“We conclude that conducting a warrantless blood or urine test would not have been constitutional under an exception to the warrant requirement, charging appellant with criminal test refusal implicates his fundamental right to be free from unconstitutional searches, and the test-refusal statute as applied to warrantless blood and urine tests is not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest. We therefore reverse appellant’s conviction because the test-refusal statute violates appellant’s right to substantive due process under the United States and Minnesota Constitutions.”

The U.S. Supreme Court this month agreed to decide whether states can criminalize a driver’s refusal to take an alcohol test even if police have not obtained a search warrant. It will review the Minnesota Supreme Court decision on breath tests and two North Dakota cases.

The case is State of Minnesota v. Ryan, A15–0076


Copyright 2015, Metropolitan News Company