The U.S. Supreme Court ruling last June requiring warrants for blood tests for drivers suspected of DUI has continued to have repercussions throughout the United States. Now the Minnesota Supreme Court has decided that police cannot compel a driver to provide a urine sample for a DUI test unless they have a warrant. This ruling could set a precedent that dramatically changes the way that police in California handle cases of DUI in Los Angeles and other jurisdictions.
The Minnesota Supreme Court handed down a unanimous ruling in two cases: State v. Thompson and State V. Trahan. (Two justices did abstain, however.) In the Thompson case, the judges rejected arguments that a urine test is just part of a Constitutionally-valid search that police can conduct when they arrest someone.
In the Trahan case, the court weighed privacy issues, examining an individual’s right to privacy versus the state’s interest in protecting its citizens against drivers who are operating vehicles under the influence. The court determined that urine tests are intrusive, just like the blood tests involved in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Urine tests for blood alcohol content, therefore, require a warrant.
The Minnesota Supreme Court also stated, however, that authorities will not have to obtain a warrant before giving a suspect a breathalyzer test. The justices noted that the breathalyzer results should be sufficient to enough to ensure that the state can protect its citizens, and that if they feel a blood or urine test is necessary they can obtain a warrant…
One issue that the court did not address was whether or not its decision should apply retroactively to drivers already convicted of DUI with evidence that included warrantless urine tests.
Do you or a family member need insight from a qualified Los Angeles DUI attorney? Contact Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group to set up your free consultation.