The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Mike (Decided August 27, 2018, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Published) which stands for the proposition that even if the police disobey the law in obtaining a blood or urine test the test results will still not be suppressed in the criminal case. This is a terrible decision and will lead to absurd results.
In State v. Mike, the Defendant was arrested for a Minnesota DWI and the police obtained a search warrant authorizing the collection of sample of his blood for chemical testing. The arrested officer never informed Mr. Mike that refusal to submit to a warranted blood test was a crime. The test result of the blood sample revealed an alcohol concentration level of .23%.
Mike moved to suppress the test result arguing that Minnesota Statute §171.77 requires a person be informed that refusal to submit to a warranted blood test is a crime. The District Court agreed with the Defendant and suppressed the test. But on appeal, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed, stating:
"Having concluded that compliance with the advisory requirement in section 171.177, subdivision 1, was necessary, we must next determine whether suppression of Mike’s test results is an appropriate remedy for noncompliance."
"The purpose of suppression is not to vindicate a defendant’s rights nor to affirm the integrity of the courts, but to deter police from engaging in illegal searches.” State v. Cook, 498 N. W.2d 17, 20 (Minn. 1993). “In other words, the risk of having seized evidence suppressed is intended to persuade police officers to follow the rules and to act lawfully when searching and seizing private property.” Id. The supreme court “[has] indicated in a number of cases . . . that [it] will not require suppression of all evidence seized in searches constituting, or resulting from, a violation of a statute.”
"...suppression based on a statutory violation is justified only if the violation subverts the purpose of the statute. We therefore consider the purpose of section 171.177, subdivision 1. Two cases inform our consideration. The first is Tyler v. Comm ’r of Pub. Safety, 368 N.W.2d 275 (Minn. 1985). In Tyler, the supreme court considered, in the context of a license-revocation proceeding, the appropriate remedy for the state’s failure to provide a standard implied-consent advisory before obtaining a driver’s consent to testing. 368 N.W.2d at 278, 280-81. The supreme court stated that “[i]t would be improper and unfair to revoke a driver’s license for refusing to take a test if an advisory were not given,” but that “failure to give an advisory should not make any difference in a case where the revocation is based on test results showing that the driver had an [illegal] blood alcohol concentration.” Id. at 280. The supreme court reasoned, “The advisory is not designed to persuade a driver not to take a test; rather it is aimed at letting a driver know the serious consequences of his refusal to take a test.”
"Because the purpose of the advisory in section 171.177, subdivision 1, is to encourage submission to testing, and not refusal, that purpose is not subverted if a driver submits to a test without being read the advisory. And because the statutory purpose is not subverted in such circumstances, failure to provide the advisory does not justify suppression of ensuing test results. We therefore hold that failure to comply with the advisory requirement in Minnesota Statutes section 171.177, subdivision 1, does not justify suppression of the test results in a criminal prosecution for DWI. The district court therefore erred by suppressing Mike’s blood-test results on the ground that the state failed to inform Mike that refusal to take a warranted blood test is a crime."
The Court of Appeals reasoning appears to be flawed for two reasons:
(1) The purpose of the exclusionary rule is to deter police misconduct. The exclusionary rule is not limited to police search misconduct. When the police disobey the law, by not informing an individual of the consequences of refusal, they have engaged in misconduct and the evidence should be suppressed.
(2) According to the logic of the Court of Appeals, anyone who is subjected to a warranted search of their blood and who is not advised of the consequences of refusal pursuant to § 171.77, should ALWAYS refuse to submit to testing as they could not be prosecuted for the refusal crime.
Moral Of The Story: Just say no!
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 Minneapolis DWI Attorney, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI questions.