Who Can Draw Blood for DWI in Minnesota?
Every driver in Minnesota—whether they realize it or not—has given their consent to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test when suspected of driving while intoxicated. This law, known as “implied consent,” is used to varying degrees in every state. If you’re asking who can draw blood for DWI in Minnesota, the police do have the right.
However, many courts have treated the drawing of a blood sample differently than a breath or urine sample. A blood draw is the most painful and intrusive of the three methods, and it is the most likely to be objected to by the individual in question.
While the police have the right to seek a blood test, the United States Supreme Court has held that a warrant is necessary unlike a breath or urine sample. This means that the police could draw your blood during a DWI investigation. To learn more about your rights following a DWI arrest, contact the attorneys of Gerald Miller as soon as possible.
Which Party Draws Blood for the Police in Minnesota?
Unlike collecting a breath or urine sample, not just anyone can collect a blood sample. Drawing blood is a medical procedure that requires specific training. For that reason, officers typically take DWI suspects to a local hospital or medical facility. There, they have a nurse draw blood under their supervision.
Who Gets to Decide What Type of Test I Take in Minnesota?
According to state law, drivers give their implied consent to either a breath, blood, or urine test. The law allows the arresting officer to select the type of test used. Most of the time, law enforcement selects a breath test as it is simple to perform and does not require the assistance of medical personal. Additionally, these tests are taken at police stations or sheriff’s offices equipped with a breathalyzer device.
Is a Warrant Necessary for a Blood Draw in Minnesota?
While the police have the right to choose the type of test given, they must obtain a warrant executed by a judge in order to require a blood test. This requirement is thanks to a 2019 United States Supreme Court case known as Missouri vs. McNeely.
In McNeely, the Missouri Supreme Court held that a warrant was unnecessary due to the state’s implied consent laws. The Supreme Court of the United States disagreed. On an 8-1 vote, the Supreme Court found that a blood draw was so intrusive that requiring one without a warrant was unconstitutional. Because it involves physically removing something from a person’s body, the court reasoned that a blood draw was a search or seizure. Under the 4th Amendment to the Constitution, an unlawful search or seizure may not be used as evidence at a criminal trial.
There are still some questions that remain following the decision. Specifically, the Supreme Court acknowledged that a warrant would not be necessary under exigent circumstances. The Court also found that the natural metabolization of alcohol in the blood stream in and of itself did not create exigent circumstances sufficient to eliminate the need for a warrant. The court reasoned that, thanks to modern technology, a warrant could be obtained in relatively short order at any time of the day.
While the Supreme Court declined to rule that every DWI case presented exigent circumstances due to the body’s ability to metabolize alcohol, it acknowledged that cases could exist where a warrantless blood draw would be necessary. McNeely stood out because the arresting officer admitted that they made no effort to secure a warrant, and there was no testimony as to why a warrant could not be obtained in time. The Supreme Court might have ruled differently if the police had made an effort to secure a warrant or provided a reason for why they could not.
Challenging a Blood Test
Although the results of a blood test can provide strong evidence of guilt for the state, it is possible to prevent these tests from ever being seen by a jury. There are numerous requirements that come with collecting and testing blood samples for the presence of alcohol.
Illegal Traffic Stops
One of the most common grounds for excluding the results of a blood test at trial involve an unlawful traffic stop. The police do not have the right to pull over a driver for no reason. Instead, they must have an articulable suspicion of wrongdoing.
When the police pull over another driver without reasonable suspicion, any evidence collected as a result of the stop could be excluded from trial. This could include a blood sample drawn after the traffic stop.
Broken Chain of Custody
Typically, a state crime lab will perform the test of a blood sample following a DWI arrest. This typically involves a transfer of possession of the sample from the police to the lab. There must be a paper trail of every person that handles the sample during this process. This is known as the chain of custody. If the chain of custody is broken or not property documented, there is no way to guaranteed the sample was not tampered with. This could lead to the exclusion of the test results at trial.
Not just anyone can draw a blood sample during a DWI investigation. If the person that takes the sample is not authorized under the law, the results of the test could be excluded by the judge.
Sometimes mistakes happen within the crime lab. If the lab tech that analyzes the sample makes an error, it could impact the accuracy of the test. Samples can be contaminated when they are mixed with foreign substances or other blood samples. Furthermore, these samples must be carefully stored to ensure they do not break down. If a blood sample is not stored correctly, it could give a false positive for alcohol. Any of these errors could result in the exclusion of the test result at trial.
Other Types of Tests in Minnesota DWI Cases
Blood draws are only one way that the police could establish a driver’s BAC during a DWI investigation. The other two types of tests include breath and urine tests. Each of these tests has its benefits and drawbacks, and there are various regulations involved with collecting both type of sample.
The most common form of chemical sample taken during DWI investigations is the breath sample. This method involves a person suspected of DWI blowing into a device that measures the amount of alcohol on their breath. This option is common given that it is the least intrusive. There are some downsides, as breath tests are more likely to have false positives compared to blood draws.
There are ways a breath test result could become contaminated. For example, the police must wait 20 minutes before taking a breath sample to ensure there is no alcohol remaining in the mouth of the suspect. Additionally, these devices must be carefully calibrated in order for them to produce an accurate result. If the breathalyzer is not calibrated, any result could be excluded from trial. Likewise, a test result procured by a person not property certified to operate the machine could also be barred by the judge.
The third option for law enforcement is the urine test. This method is the least common of the three, as it requires cooperation from the accused in order to secure a sample. In cases where the accused is compliant, the breath test is usually the simpler option for law enforcement.
There are factors that could lead the court to exclude the results of a urine test. The same testing protocols and chain of custody requirements for blood tests also apply to urine sample as well. If the state fails to meet its own requirements regarding these samples, the court could prohibit the test results from being used at trial.
Speak to a Minneapolis DWI Defense Lawyer About Your Blood Draw
Are you asking, Who can draw blood for a DWI in Minnesota? The police do have the right under implied consent, but must obtain a warrant. Even if the police legally collect a breath, blood, or urine sample from you, there are other grounds that preclude the state from using it at trial. Without the results of your blood test, the state might not have enough evidence to move forward with their case.
The attorneys of Gerald Miller have successfully suppressed the results of blood, breath, and urine tests in a number of DWI trials. To learn about how we might approach a defense strategy in your case, call today for a free consultation.
This blog was originally published on February 26, 2021 and updated on July 26, 2021,