The US Supreme Court is currently considering the constitutionality of implied consent laws after hearing several cases pertaining to these controversial DUI laws in Minnesota and North Dakota.
Implied Consent Laws: A Heavily Debated Topic In The US
All 50 US States have implied consent laws which require a driver to submit to certain chemical tests (breath, blood or urine) if lawfully arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
These chemical tests are used to estimate a driver’s level of intoxication by calculating their blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). The results from these chemical tests can be used in a court of law to prosecute a driver suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Proponents of implied consent laws argue that these laws are necessary in order to catch and prosecute drunk drivers. But opponents argue that these laws are unconstitutional by fundamentally violating the Fourth Amendment which protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures.
What Happens If You Refuse A Chemical Test?
By refusing to submit to a chemical test, a driver faces minimum penalties which usually include a suspended driver’s license and can include additional penalties.
For example, the minimum mandatory sentence for refusing to submit to a chemical test in New Jersey is a seven month license revocation and a fine of between $300 – $500.
Are Implied Consent Laws Constitutional?
This is the big question…
Drivers and DWI defense attorneys throughout the country have been fighting these laws for decades, arguing that these laws are unconstitutional and violate an individual’s rights under the Fourth Amendment and Fifth Amendment.
After recently hearing cases involving implied consent laws in Minnesota and North Dakota, the U.S. Supreme Court is reconsidering the constitutionality of these laws throughout the nation.
Progress has already been made in some states which have decided to reverse implied consent laws.
For example, on February 26th, 2016, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled Kansas’ implied consent law to be unconstitutional and reversed the law which had required drivers in Kansas to submit to chemical tests without a court-ordered warrant.
It is important to know that drivers in Kansas can still be required to submit to chemical tests after being arrested for DUI, but only if police obtain a warrant.
The US Supreme Court is expected to reach a decision about implied consent laws within the next few months.