Monday, September 23, 2019

Minneapolis DWI Lawyer F. T. Sessoms Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Larson (Decided September 23, 2019, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that a bicycle becomes a motor vehicle subject to the Minnesota DWI laws if it has a motor on it.

In Larson, the appellant argued that the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he operated a motor vehicle when riding his three-wheeled, motorized bicycle. The Court of Appeals rejected his contention noting that "Minn. Stat. § 169A.20, subd. 1 (2016). Section 169A.03, subd. 15 defines “motor vehicle” as “every vehicle that is self-propelled .... The term includes motorboats in operation and off-road recreational vehicles, but does not include a vehicle moved solely by human power.” The DWI definitions point to chapter 169 for the definition of a “vehicle”: “every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported . . . upon a highway.” Minn. Stat. § 169.011, sub. 92 (2016)."

"The relevant statutes are unambiguous and they are only subject to one reasonable interpretation. We therefore construe the words of the statutes according to their plain and ordinary meaning. Accordingly, chapters 169A and 169 provide that when a person under the influence of alcohol operates a device that can transport a person or property upon a highway and is self-propelled, that person commits a crime. But operation of a device that is moved solely by human power while under the influence does not result in a crime under the DWI statutes."

"The motor-vehicle definition provides two requirements for a motor vehicle: (1) self-propelling and (2) not moved solely by human power. Here, the bicycle’s motor, which allows the bicycle to travel up to 40 miles-per-hour, makes the bicycle self-propelling. The motor and gas tank are affixed to the bicycle, and a chain connects the motor to the rear wheel to propel it. Although the record does not support this, Larson argues that his motorized bicycle can also operate solely by being pedaled, without the motor running. Even taking this as true, Larson’s motorized bicycle meets the definition of “motor vehicle” because the motor makes it a self-propelling vehicle, and the bicycle is not solely moved by human power because it has a self-propelling motor."
"Accordingly, we affirm the district court’s ruling that Larson’s motorized bicycle falls under the “motor vehicle” definition, and therefore sufficient evidence supports his conviction."

Moral of the Story: It doesn't matter if you have your motor running.

If you or a loved one have been charged with a Minnesota DWI, feel free to contact Minneapolis DWI Lawyer, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI and DUI questions.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Minnesota DWI Lawyer F. T. Sessoms Blogs on Minnesota DWI: This Week's Featured Minnesota DWI Case

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.