In December, the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the drunk driving conviction of a man who was charged more than two years after the incident originally occurred. The defendant, now age 29, is from Stewartville.
Court documents show that the defendant went out drinking on the night of Sept. 23, 2013. He then smashed his vehicle into a curb, causing a passenger to be ejected through the rear window. The defendant was transported to the hospital where a police officer obtained a blood sample from him. Tests of the blood sample showed that he had a blood alcohol content level of over .10, which is above Minnesota’s legal limit of .08. Despite this, authorities did not actually charge him with any crimes until December 2015. At that time, he was charged with four counts of criminal vehicular operation and two counts of fourth-degree DWI. In 2017, he was convicted of three counts of criminal vehicular operation and sentenced to three years of supervised probation.
The defendant appealed his conviction, claiming that authorities had waited too long to charge him. He further claimed that his blood had been drawn without a warrant. However, the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld his conviction, ruling that the delay did not harm his ability to mount a defense. The court also noted that he did not appear to suffer any mental anguish over potential charges related to the accident. Finally, it ruled that authorities acted under “exigent circumstances” when taking his blood, meaning that they feared that the evidence would be lost if they did not act immediately.
Law enforcement officers are required to follow certain rules when obtaining blood samples and other evidence for DWI charges. When they fail to do so, a defendant has the right to challenge the evidence in court with the help of a defense attorney.
Source: KIMT3, “MN Court Of Appeals Upholds Long Delayed Crash Conviction,” Mike Bunge, Dec. 31, 2018