The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Freeman, (Decided January 20, 2020, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that when it comes to the right to counsel prior to testing, "no" means "no".
In Freeman, an officer in Stearns County observed a black car fail to stop for a stop sign. After pulling over the vehicle, the officer encountered Mr. Freeman in the driver's seat of the car. Mr. Freeman smelled of alcohol, was slurring his speech and the back seat of his vehicle was full of beer.
After performing field sobriety tests, Mr. Freeman was placed under arrest and was read the Minnesota Implied Consent advisory in the back seat of the squad. Mr. Freeman was told he had that right to talk to an attorney prior to testing and was asked by the officer if he wished to consult with a lawyer.
Mr. Freeman told the officer, “I’m gonna contact [an attorney] but it ain’t gonna be tonight.” The officer read the advisory once more and asked again whether Freeman wanted to consult with an attorney, and Freeman said that he was not going to talk to an attorney at that moment. He said, “I don’t need to contact one beforehand” and “I will talk to one afterwards.”
The officer asked one last time, “[d]o you wish to consult with an attorney? Yes or No?” and Freeman responded, “[a]t this moment, no. Not before that.” Then the officer offered him one last chance to take the test and Freeman said no. The officer recorded Freeman’s test refusal and took him to jail.
The Defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence of his test refusal on the grounds that his right to counsel prior to testing was not vindicated. The District Court denied the motion to suppress and on appeal, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed, stating:
"Here, the officer read Freeman the implied-consent advisory, thereby triggering his limited right to counsel. During their subsequent conversation, Freeman stated that he was going to be talking to an attorney but not in that moment or that night, noting that he wanted to contact an attorney he had worked with before."
"When a driver expresses his interest in consulting with an attorney, the officer must either clarify the driver’s request or vindicate that right by providing a phone and an opportunity for consultation. State v. Slette, 585 N.W.2d 407, 410 (Minn. App. 1998). And courts consider the totality of the circumstances in determining whether the right to consult counsel was vindicated. Groe v. Comm’r of Pub. Safety, 615 N.W.2d 837, 841 (Minn. App. 2000), review denied (Minn. Sept. 13, 2000)."
"Here, the transcript shows that the officer tried to clarify whether Freeman was invoking this right. The officer demonstrated this through his follow-up questions and efforts to confirm Freeman’s wishes. And Freeman ultimately stated that he did not want to consult an attorney before making his decision not to submit to chemical testing. By doing so, Freeman declined to exercise his limited right to consult with an attorney."
Moral Of The Story: A right is only good if you exercise it.
If you or a loved one have been charged with a Minnesota DWI, feel free to contact Minneapolis DWI Attorney, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI and DUI questions.