Earlier this week, the Minnesota Court of Appeals issued an interesting ruling highlighting the need for defense attorneys to be aware of the precise statutory requirements for DWI investigations in Minnesota. In this case, a man was pulled over and arrested for driving while under the influence. The arresting officer obtained a search warrant for the man’s urine or blood and asked him to provide a blood sample. She told the man that it would be an additional crime for him to refuse to take a test. This is more or less true, but the trooper neglected to mention one important thing – in Minnesota, officers must offer suspects both a blood and a urine test before that person can be charged with test refusal. (Note- this is only true for blood and urine tests. If an officer requests a breath test, they need not offer an alternative test before charging the crime of test refusal!)
In this particular case, the officer told the man she had arrested, “I applied for a search warrant for a blood draw, and refusal to take a test is a crime.” Notice the subtle error in her wording here – she did not inform the driver that she would need to also offer an alternative urine test before charging test refusal. This inaccuracy led the court to throw out the test results in this particular case.
This case is notable not so much because of the legal principles involved, but because it highlights the benefit of having experienced counsel representing you in a DWI case. A simple error in wording here led to a dramatic result for this driver. Such a minor detail is easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for.