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Supreme Court to rule on alcohol test refusal laws

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to rule on the legality of state laws that make it a criminal offense for a person to refuse to take an alcohol test when suspected of driving while drunk.The court will hear three related app...

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to rule on the legality of state laws that make it a criminal offense for a person to refuse to take an alcohol test when suspected of driving while drunk.
The court will hear three related appeals brought by drivers who refused to take tests in two different states, North Dakota and Minnesota. There are 13 states in total that have such laws.
Lawyers for the challengers say that the laws violate the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which outlaws unlawful searches and seizures because police do not obtain warrants first. The laws cover breath, blood and urine tests.
Under the Minnesota law, a conviction could lead to as much as seven years in prison and a fine of up to $14,000. In North Dakota, an initial refusal to take a test is a misdemeanor offense.
Lawyers for the states say the laws only apply when someone has been arrested for driving while drunk and has refused to take an alcohol test.
In all three cases, lower courts upheld the laws.
In a February 2015 ruling that rejected a challenge brought by driver William Robert Bernard, the Minnesota Supreme Court said that “charging Bernard with criminal test refusal does not implicate a fundamental right.”
The new cases follow a 2013 Supreme Court ruling in which the court limited the ability of police to take involuntary blood samples from suspected drunken drivers without a search warrant. The court will hear oral arguments in early spring, with a ruling due by the end of June.

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