The US Supreme Court Accepts Review of DUI Test-Refusal Cases
The United States Supreme Court has granted review of three DUI cases stemming from states in the Eighth Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, in Minnesota and North Dakota. All three involve the defendant refusing to consent to the commonly administered blood and breathalyzer test.
Specifically, the Court will examine the central issue of whether, in the absence of a search warrant, an individual can be charged with the separate crime of refusing to submit to taking chemical tests. Currently, thirteen states criminalize such refusals.
Both Minnesota and North Dakota have laws making it a crime for a person to refuse to take chemical tests for DUI. In Minnesota, however, such refusal becomes a crime only if the person has already been validly arrested for drunken driving.
In California, a person is required to submit to the chemical tests under California’s implied consent law in VC 23612, but it applies only if that person is lawfully under arrest. Refusal to do so in such case could result in an increased fine, a longer suspension of the license and the potential of mandatory imprisonment if the person is convicted of the underlying DUI offense (VC §23613(a)(1)(D)).
The cases granted review will be consolidated and argued together later during this current Supreme Court term. Stay tuned for a review of the argument and subsequent decision, as it’s likely to have a nationwide effect.
Submitted by Taylor Moudy, Legal Intern, Law Office of Louis J Goodman
Note: In California, if you are arrested for DUI the general advice is: Politely refuse the breath test on the street, but DO take the breath or blood test at the police station.