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Have You Been Convicted of Refusing a DUI Test?

Brian Jesse

New changes in Minnesota law could make it possible for you to have your conviction overturned.

The Minnesota Supreme Court decided Johnson v. State in August of 2018, and the Court decided that law enforcement officers could not lawfully threaten someone with a crime for refusing to submit to a blood draw, or a urine test, if the officer did not have a valid warrant for that search. The United States Supreme Court decided in Birchfield v. North Dakota that law enforcement officers need a search warrant to obtain a blood draw or urine test. A warrant is not required for a breath test, and the distinction is that the blood draws and urine tests are more intrusive than the breath test. Police officers commonly attempt to obtain a blood or urine sample, as opposed to a breath sample, when they believe someone is under the influence of a drug that would not be detected by a breath test. Blood draws can also be used to obtain a more accurate blood alcohol content level.

The court in the Johnson case further decided that this rule applies retroactively to prior test refusal convictions. This means that if you were convicted of a crime for refusing to provide a blood or urine sample and law enforcement did not have a warrant, you can now bring a motion in the district court where your conviction was entered to ask the court to overturn your conviction. However, having your conviction overturned is not guaranteed by bringing the motion.

The State can oppose the overturning of the conviction and argue that there were circumstances in your case that support the conviction despite the fact that law enforcement did not have a warrant for the test. For example, the State could argue that there was an exception to the warrant requirement. One commonly argued exception to the warrant requirement is that exigent circumstances prevented, or made it impractical for, law enforcement to obtain a warrant. However, courts are not finding exigent circumstances exist very often due to the easy accessibility that law enforcement officers have to obtain search warrants. The courts will decide the motions on a case by case basis.

At Rinke Noonan we have experienced criminal defense attorneys up-to-date on these revisions and all things criminal defense. Please contact us if you have been convicted of test refusal to see if you are eligible to bring a motion to have your conviction overturned. We would be happy to assist you.

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