State high court: Samples in DWI tests not coerced

Published 10:58 am Thursday, October 24, 2013

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a man’s claim that he was coerced into agreeing to provide blood and urine samples used in his three DWI convictions.

In a unanimous opinion, the court ruled that when Wesley Brooks of Prior Lakes consented, police did not need a search warrant to take the samples.

Brooks argued that he had no choice but to provide the samples, because refusing to do so is a crime in Minnesota.

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Chief Justice Lorie Gildea wrote in the opinion that a driver’s decision to agree to take a test “is not coerced simply because Minnesota has attached the penalty of making it a crime to refuse the test.”

Under Minnesota’s implied-consent law, drivers are considered to have consented to sobriety testing. Refusal results in criminal charges.

The ruling was heralded by law enforcement. But many legal observers say it leaves unanswered questions about the constitutionality of Minnesota’s implied-consent law, established in 1961.

Bill Lemons, traffic safety resource prosecutor for the Minnesota County Attorneys Association, said the ruling shows that law enforcement has been doing things right.