State v. BernardAnnotate this Case
Minn. Stat. 169A.20(2) (“the test refusal statute”) makes it a crime for a driver to refuse to request to take a chemical test to detect the presence of alcohol if certain conditions are met. One of those conditions is that the driver has been validly arrested for driving while impaired. Appellant argued that the test refusal statute violated due process because it criminalizes refusal to consent to an unreasonable, warrantless search of a driver’s breath. The district court dismissed the charges, concluding that the police lacked a lawful basis to search Appellant without a warrant, and therefore, the test refusal statute was unconstitutional as applied. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because the breath test the police asked Defendant to take would have been constitutional under the search-incident-to-arrest exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement, charging Defendant with criminal test refusal did not implicate a fundamental right; and (2) the test refusal statute is a reasonable means to a permissive object and passes rational basis review.