Minnesota Supreme Court Requires Officers to Obtain Warrants in DWI Cases

On October 23, 2013, the Minnesota Supreme Court published its State v. Brooks decision. In essence, the court ruled that officers must obtain a warrant in all DWI cases–unless an exception to the warrant requirement applies.

In this case, the State charged Wesley Brooks with three different DWI offenses. In each case, Brooks consented when officers asked whether Mr. Brooks would take a chemical test (i.e., blood, breath, or urine test). The supreme court ruled that the officers didn’t need warrants because Mr. Brooks consented to each test. The court explained the officers didn’t need a warrant because Mr. Brooks talked to an attorney, because of what the officers told Mr. Brooks, and because Mr. Brooks was previously arrested for DWI and knew the system.

This case asked more questions than provided answers. For example, what happens if a suspected drunk driver doesn’t talk to an attorney? What happens if the suspect refuses the test? What happens when the arrest is the suspect’s first DWI? The fight over our DWI laws remains in full force–at least until the courts or legislature can provide more direction.

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