SCOTUS to Decide Whether Refusing Body Chemical Tests Can Be a Crime

December 20, 2015 10:28 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

The Association’s upcoming January luncheon will feature Adam Liptak, the renowned New York Times journalist who covers the United States Supreme Court. Last week, Liptak wrote an article focused on controversial state laws that make it a crime for motorists suspected of driving drunk to refuse blood, breath or urine tests. Currently, 13 states have such laws. 


The Court consolidated three different cases into one: Bernard v. Minnesota, No. 14-1470. In Bernard, William Bernard refused to take a breath test after his arrest for suspected drunk driving. In Minnesota, it is a crime for someone arrested for driving while impaired to refuse to submit to a chemical test of that person's blood, urine or breath to detect the presence of alcohol. Bernard challenged the Minnesota law. In rejecting his challenge to the law, the Minnesota Supreme Court reasoned that because Bernard was arrested, the search of his person was permissible in connection therewith. 

Liptak said that the defendants in the consolidated case are being represented by lawyers affiliated with Yale Law School's Supreme Court Clinic. The defendants noted that review of these laws are necessary because they " 'affect many thousands of people every year.' "


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