Court: In DWI cases, lawyer is not a right if police have warrant

Minnesota residents no longer have the right to consult an attorney before submitting a blood-alcohol sample.

With a 3-4 decision in the Minnesota Supreme Court Wednesday, the majority found that because blood draws require a search warrant issued by a judge, that's enough to protect the rights of the accused.

The change comes as part of a court ruling stemming from a 2017 DWI arrest in Dakota County where the driver argued the results of her blood test should be thrown out because she wasn't given the chance to consult her attorney.

"People can no longer call an attorney to get advice," explains Dan Koewler. "Once they see a warrant, they have no choice. They have to decide to either take the test or refuse the test on the spot."

Koewler, who serves on the Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, filed an amicus brief in the case. He argues, in part, that Minnesota drivers will be left without guidance that could have binding, long-term effects.

"Can I say 'no,' what happens if I do, what happens if I don't," says Koewler. "Legally, it's very confusing."

Koewler says warrants for blood or urine are the only warrants you are legally able to deny in the state of Minnesota.

"Law enforcement officers aren't going to be telling people you can actually refuse this search warrant," he said. "The only way someone is going to know that the Minnesota legislature gave them the right to say no to a blood test is if an attorney tells them and now that option is off the table."

Warrants are required for blood draws and not complying could result in criminal penalties.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.