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Thousands Of DWI Cases Could Be Thrown Out After Ruling

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(credit: CBS) Esme Murphy
Esme Murphy, a reporter and Sunday morning anchor for WCCO-TV, h...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thousands of DWI cases could be tossed out because of a Supreme Court ruling.

The ruling, issued Wednesday, says that law enforcement must have a search warrant before taking a blood alcohol sample.

The ruling specifically talks about blood alcohol tests. Right now in Minnesota, blood tests make up less than 20 percent of DWI cases — 80 percent of arrests are made after a breathalyzer test. But DWI attorney Chuck Ramsey said the ruling will impact all DWI tests.

“This will definitely affect breath test cases,” Ramsey said.

But the State Patrol sees it very differently. They said in a statement, “The decision will not impact the vast majority of DWI arrests in Minnesota.”

The State Patrol said the decision only affects involuntary blood tests.

But defense attorney Ramsey and other attorneys we spoke with said almost no DWI tests are voluntary in Minnesota because the DWI suspect is told if they don’t take the test, it’s a crime.

The Minneapolis city attorney’s office, which handles more than 1,000 DWI cases a year, also insists the ruling would have little impact saying, “The case has narrow applicability and has no automatic effect on any existing case.”

Other prosecutors did not return calls. Chuck Daley said he has already taken action filing motions in the 200 DWI cases he has pending.

Ramsey said it will cause courts to throw out every blood, breathalyzer and urine test pending in Minnesota right now.

Because law enforcement and defense attorneys clearly have different views of what this ruling means, it could result in drawn out legal battles over individual cases that could take months, even years.

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