The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is Jensen v. Commissioner of Public Safety (Decided September 3, 2019, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Published) which stands for the proposition that the advisory must be read before the Commissioner can conduct a pre-hearing license revocation pursuant to Minnesota Statute §171.177.
In Jensen, the arresting police officer obtained a search warrant to draw and test Pauline Jensen’s blood after she drove into and injured a child with her car and failed field sobriety tests. The blood test showed that Jensen’s alcohol concentration exceeded the statutory limit, and the commissioner of public safety revoked her license under Minnesota Statutes, section 171.177, subdivision 5.
Jensen petitioned for judicial review, arguing that her driver’s license should be reinstated because the sergeant had not warned her that test refusal is a crime, as required by Minnesota Statutes, section 171.177, subdivision 1 (2018). The District Court sustained the license revocation but on Appeals, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the lower court stating:
"The statute requires that, “[a]t the time a blood or urine test is directed pursuant to a search warrant. . . , the person must be informed that refusal to submit to a blood or urine test is a crime.” Minn. Stat. § 171.177, subd. 1. We recently concluded that the warning requirement is unambiguous, has no exceptions, and requires an officer to inform an individual of the criminal consequences of test refusal even when a warrant authorizes the blood draw. State v. Mike, 919 N.W.2d 103, 110 (Minn. App. 2018), review granted (Minn. Nov. 13, 2018)."
"The procedures in section 171.177 largely mirror those stated in the implied-consent statutes, requiring a warning of criminal consequences at the time a test is directed or requested. Compare Minn. Stat. § 171.177, subd. 1, with Minn. Stat. § 169A.51, subd. 2 (2018). The statutes also detail the same procedure for review of a revocation. Compare Minn. Stat. § 171.177, subds. 10-12 (2012), with Minn. Stat. § 169A.53 (2018). The history of section 171.177 and its obvious relationship to the implied-consent statutes leads us to apply to section 171.177 the caselaw relied on to interpret the related implied-consent statutes."
"The supreme court’s decision in Tyler v. Commissioner of Public Safety is most instructive. 368 N.W.2d 275, 280-81 (Minn. 1985). Tyler compels us to hold that the deputy’s failure to provide the statutorily required warning precluded the district court from upholding Jensen’s revocation. Id. The Tyler court held that complying with the warning requirement was necessary before revoking a license under the implied-consent law: “[W]e believe that the legislature intended that a driver’s license be revoked pursuant to the implied consent law . . . only if the provisions of the law were complied with.” Id. at281 (emphasis added). And a license revocation cannot be sustained if the refusal-is-a-crime warning was not given. Id. Following this reasoning, we hold that a license can be revoked under section 171.177 only if the officer followed the warning requirement."
"It is true that, if Jensen had refused to submit to the test, the sergeant could have drawn and tested her blood anyway. But an officer’s authority to obtain a test despite the driver’s refusal does not eliminate his duty to give the warning “at the time a blood or urine test is directed.” Minn. Stat. § 171.177, subd. 1. Nor does the authority render the warning irrelevant. As we have explained, the purpose of the warning is “to inform a driver of the serious consequences of refusal in an effort to compel the driver to take the test,” not to inform the driver that she has the option to refuse. Mike, 919 N.W.2d at 113. And a driver can commit the crime of test refusal even if she is ultimately forced to submit to a test. See Minn. Stat. §§ 169A.20, subd. 2(2), 171.177, subd. 13(a)-(b) (2018). Because refusing a test carries the same criminal consequences whether or not the state can force a test, and because the purpose of the warning is to inform drivers of the criminal consequences of refusal, the warning serves its purpose and is not irrelevant in these circumstances. The refusal-is-a-crime warning is required before the commissioner may secure a pre-hearing license revocation."
Moral Of The Story: Police must warn you before your license can be revoked!
If you or a loved one have been arrested for a Minnesota DWI, or are facing a DWI forfeiture of your motor vehicle, feel free to contact Minnesota DWI Lawyer, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI questions.