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Man waits for Supreme Court’s ruling on state’s breath test law

WORTHINGTON — A U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of a Minnesota law that makes it a crime for suspected drunken drivers to refuse a sobriety test will determine the extent of the charges filed against a South Dakota resident who, according to police, smelled of alcohol in a Worthington parking lot. 

Devin Lief Heyrunning, 31, is charged with two felony counts of first-degree driving while intoxicated. Heyrunning was arrested in April after two peace officers suspected him of drunk driving. Judge Gordon Moore ruled Tuesday morning that any further action on the case should be held until the Supreme Court’s ruling on Minnesota’s “implied consent” is released.

The outcome of the case of State of Minnesota vs. Bernard will determine the legality of the law that states if an individual is driving, they must consent to a breath, blood or urine chemical test. Refusal to submit to the test is a crime.

The decision may affect the severity of the charges pressed against Heyrunning, who pleaded not guilty to both charges.

According to the complaint, an individual alerted the Worthington Police Department that Heyrunning asked for lodging assistance and smelled of an alcoholic beverage. When a WPD officer arrived to the scene, Heyrunning was in a vehicle in the First Covenant Church parking lot.

The officer asked Heyrunning if he needed help looking for lodging. While the two conversed, the office detected a strong odor inside the vehicle that he associated with the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

The officer also saw a 24-ounce aluminum can in the car that he identified as being commonly used for malt liquor beverages (the container was later identified as a can of “Four Locos”). He also observed Heyrunning start the vehicle with a socket wrench.

Heyrunning was then asked if he had been consuming alcohol, to which he replied he’d “had a little bit to drink.” Another WPD officer soon arrived to the scene to assist, and he also smelled the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from Heyrunning.

Heyrunning agreed to submit to standardized field sobriety tests, and officers observed him swaying from side-to-side and failing to fully complete instructions. When asked to submit to a preliminary breath test, he pulled a penny from his mouth. According to the complaint, some people believe that having a penny in one’s mouth can reduce the smell of alcohol or influence a breath test.

The test resulted in a 0.109 percent breath alcohol concentration. Minnesota’s legal limit is 0.08 percent. Heyrunning was then transported to the Nobles County Jail, where another breath test resulted in a 0.10 breath alcohol concentration.

Both charges have a maximum sentence level of seven years imprisonment, a $14,000 fine or both.

Heyrunning also pleaded not guilty to additional charges of violation of the open bottle law and driving after revocation. Both charges are misdemeanors and carry a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail, $1,000 fine or both.

According to the criminal complaint, Heyrunning was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol three times — twice in South Dakota in 2012 and 2016, and once in Wyoming in 2014.

Alex Chhith

Alex Chhith joined the Worthington Daily Globe in Janurary 2016 after graduating from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities with duel bachelor degrees in Professional Journalism and Political Science and with a minor in Spanish Studies. The Eden Prairie, Minnesota native interned for a couple of news publications located in St. Paul and in her hometown during her undergraduate career. She also studied abroad in Toledo, Spain last year -- though her Spanish is a little rusty at the moment. At the Globe she covers primarily the City and Education beat, but has most recently also covered the Crime and Courts beat. On the weekends, Alex likes to relax and catch up with her friends or with her favorite television shows. Game of Thrones, House of Cards and Lord of the Rings are her go-to films to watch. 

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