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Appellate court affirms decision in DWI cases

JACKSON -- The State of Minnesota Court of Appeals Tuesday affirmed a decision made by the Jackson County District Court sustaining the revocation of the driving privileges of four citizens.

Tyler Bezdicek, Daniel Schultz, Tyler Olsen and John Sathe challenged the district court's order sustaining the revocation of their driving privileges, arguing that the results from urine samples collected after each was arrested for driving while impaired (DWI) in Jackson County should be suppressed.

The four incidents were separate, and each revealed an alcohol concentration of .08 percent or greater.

According to the opinion filed in the appellate court, each man consented to a urine test, and because of the findings, each man had his driving privileges revoked.

The appellants argued that the test results should be suppressed because consent was not voluntary due to the consequence of criminal prosecution for test refusal.

Exigent circumstances exception, which means authorities have a reasonable belief that someone is in jeopardy or evidence may be destroyed if the time to secure a warrant is taken, does not apply to collection of urine, the appellants stated.

Both the district and appellate court, however, disagreed.

At the district court level, a forensic sciences professor testifying for the appellants stated alcohol that has entered the bladder does not dissipate until the bladder is voided.

He also said the constant production of new urine into the bladder could dilute or concentrate the alcohol in the bladder.

A forensic scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, testifying for the state, said urine production increases when a person drinks alcohol, and that voiding the bladder could reduce the alcohol concentration.

The appellants argued exigent circumstances exception does not apply to the warrantless collection of a urine sample, and in a civil action to challenge an implied consent revocation of driving privileges the state has the burden to demonstrate by preponderance of evidence that the revocation was appropriate.

In a case filed June 27, the State of Minnesota Court of Appeals filed an unpublished opinion, Ellingson versus the Commissioner of Public Safety, rejecting the same argument, stating "because the body's natural processes cause the alcohol concentration of urine to change rapidly over time, the exigent circumstances justify the warrantless collection of a urine sample from a person arrested for driving while impaired."