No Warrant Required to Obtain Urine Sample

Two Minnesota Court of Appeals opinions filed June 27, 2011, allow for officers to obtain a urine sample from a driver suspected of DWI without first obtaining a search warrant. See Ellingson v. Commissioner of Public Safety and Dupont vs. Commissioner of Public Safety.

Both cases involved a challenge to the revocation of the drivers’ license. The argument the drivers put forth was that, unlike blood and breath testing, no exigent circumstances exist in cases involving urine testing. The Court in Ellingson relied on testimony from a BCA scientist to uphold the driver’s license revocation. The BCA scientist testified that while the urine remains in the bladder, the alcohol concentration will become diluted because a person’s body is continually adding freshly produced urine to the bladder contents. In addition, in only 15 minutes, the scientist testified, the alcohol concentration of urine can decrease by 0.002. These 15 minutes can be the difference in obtaining a sample from a driver at or above the legal limit, and a driver below the legal limit. Unlike blood and breath testing, due to variables, it is extremely difficult to use retrograde extrapolation to determine alcohol concentration of urine samples.

Due to the risk of dilution of urine, the Court of Appeals determined that exigent circumstances exist. This exigent circumstance is as exception to constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures because an officer who wishes to obtain a urine sample from a driver suspected of DWI is not required to secure a search warrant prior to doing so.

If you have been arrested for DWI, call 612-341-6575 to discuss you case with an experienced Minnesota DWI defense attorney.