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The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that if there's no warrant, it's unconstitutional to criminalize someone's refusal to take a blood test to measure blood alcohol content.
The case comes from an Oct. 24 night in 2012 when a Ramsey County sheriff's deputy stopped Todd Trahan for erratic driving and speed. When the deputy approached the car, Trahan was screaming that he'd be "looking at doing 67 months" and the deputy noted he had multiple DWI convictions. The deputy didn't administer field sobriety tests because Trahan was "so agitated and unpredictable." At the police station, he ordered Trahan take a blood or urine test, and the complaint alleged Trahan used sink water in his urine sample.
The deputy then asked him to take a blood test and he refused. He was subsequently charged with first-degree refusal to submit to a chemical test in violation of Minn. Stat. § 169A.20, subd. 2.
Trahan pleaded guilty after the prosecutor agreed to a sentence of 60 months in prison instead of a presumptive 65-84 months.
The court's opinion says charging the driver with violating Minnesota Statue 169A.20, subd. 2 for refusing to submit to a blood test implicates a fundamental right and the statute "as applied to refusal of a warrantless blood test is not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest, it violates a driver's right to due process under the United States and Minnesota Constitutions."
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