The United States Supreme Court recently agreed to hear a Minnesota case regarding the state's DUI laws. The decision issued by the court could have a major impact upon DUI laws across the country, including right here in California.
The case concerns implied consent laws. The current statute in Minnesota allows prosecutors to charge a motorist with a crime if he or she refuses to submit to a chemical or blood test to check for the presence of drugs or alcohol.
In the case before the court, a man was observed trying to remove his boat from the water. When police responded to the scene, the man and his friends all stated that they were not driving before police arrived. Officers questioned witnesses, and based on the information they provided, focused their attention on the man that was alleged to have been the driver.
Police asked the man to submit to field sobriety tests, and he refused. He also refused to submit to a preliminary breath test and was arrested for DUI. While he was being booked, he was again asked to submit to a breath test, and he again declined. He was informed that state law made it a crime for him to refuse to submit to a test.
The man was charged with two counts of test refusal in addition to DUI. He contended that these charges violated his constitutional rights, and the case made its way through the court system in Minnesota. Eventually, Minnesota's Supreme Court ruled that the statute was valid, and held that the statute did not infringe upon his Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure.
The man appealed this decision to the United States Supreme Court, and the justices agreed to hear the case. This is especially important because there are many states that have similar laws in place, making it a crime to refuse a blood, breath or chemical test if directed by law enforcement. California has considered such law in the past, and if the Supreme Court rules that these laws are constitutional, could revisit the issue.
If you are a motorist facing DUI allegations, reach out to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can work with you to develop a strategy to help you protect your rights at this time. If you simply plead guilty to these charges, you could find yourself facing severe consequences for your conviction, and these penalties increase substantially for any other alcohol-related driving offenses that you may have.