Four Years Later, Vindication: SCOTUS Upholds Missouri v. McNeely, overturns State v. Netland

Posted On April 17, 2013 by Daniel Koewler

The manner in which the police enforce Minnesota's DWI laws was fundamentally changed this morning, when the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued a landmark decision in the case of Missouri v. McNeely (link leads to a copy of the opinion).

It's a complicated decision broken down into four parts (some parts commanding a majority, some not), a concurrence, and a dissent. It will take time to fully digest exactly how many ways this decision will affect the future of Minnesota DWI law enforcement, but one thing is very clear.

The Supreme Court just overturned the decision in State v. Netland, a case we brought before the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2009. As a direct result of the McNeely decision, there is no longer a "single factor exigency" doctrine to speak of, meaning that law enforcement around the state (and the nation) will have to at least consider obtaining a search warrant prior to administering a chemical test for intoxication.

This will have a major impact on law enforcement practices going forward, but will have a much bigger effect on the many cases currently in the court system. We've been positioning our client's cases for months in anticipation of this decision, and plan to take full advantage of this fundamental change in the case law to benefit our clients.

The importance of this decision cannot be understated. Not only does the McNeely decision eliminate the judicially-constructed doctrine of "single factor exigency" once and for all (and add renewed strength to the privacy protections that are the cornerstone of the Fourth Amendment) but it opens a whole new can of worms in Minnesota. For starters, there is a good chance that Minnesota's test refusal law is no longer constitutional, and will have to be discarded.

We'll bring you more information once we've had a chance to fully digest the impact of this decision, but in the meantime, you may want to read some of our previous blogs leading up to today's opinion:

Agents of the Constitution: The "Show Me" State Protects the Fourth Amendment

U.S. Supreme Court to Decide if DWI Laws Are Unconstitutional

Minnesota's DWI Test Refusal Law in Review: Why the Crime of Test Refusal is Currently Considered Constitutional

The Future of Minnesota's DWI Law: How the McNeely Decision Will Affect DWI Arrests Here At Home

And again, if you'd like to read the actual language of the decision in Missouri v. McNeely, you can find it here.