Posts Categorized DWI, DUI

Can Covid-19 Era Executive Orders Sharing Medical Information Violate Your Rights?

A Recent Minnesota Order Regarding the Sharing of Covid-19 Patient Information May Have Significant Legal Considerations. The Covid-19, AKA “Corona Virus”, and Current Considerations by Government The pandemic covid-19 crisis has led to unprecedented considerations and speculations on what the future of our medical data and privacy will look like both in Minnesota and throughout the United States.  Federal officials have even considered the possibility of issuing certified “immunity cards” to people who have had the corona virus despite the fact we have no idea whether inherent immunity invests after infection and for how long.   Obviously government has taken unprecedented actions in the face of this new and fast moving public safety concern.  The contrast between our deepest held liberties and the government restrictions on our very movements and livelihoods present significant legal questions with facts that appear virtually nowhere in published court opinions.  In short, we are in unchartered territory, and while we must continue to operate on science and facts, protect our neighbors, and avoid mindless conspiracy theories, liberty is a thing that must be closely guarded, and history teaches us that liberty is most vulnerable in the face of fear and crisis.  That means, for those of us in the legal profession, especially criminal defense attorneys, we need to remain vigilant, thoughtful, and deliberative when studying these developments as they have at least the potential to violate certain rights.  The criminal defense lawyer should have an updated and watchful eye on civil liberties in the context of the Covid-19 Pandemic and the operation of law enforcement and courts. It was recently revealed that, according to an executive order of Governor Tim Walz, the Minnesota Department of Health has the street addresses and other information of every person known to be infected with Covid-19, and that information can be freely shared with law enforcement.  While there may be utility to such an order, Minnesota medical privacy laws carry significant privileges for patients of all sorts which far exceed even HIPPA standards.  Recently, Alex DeMarco achieved a victory in a DWI case where a blood sample was suppressed after a serious accident in which his client was alleged to be driving under the influence.  The following is some pertinent law on the subject of how your medical information can be shared. Minnesota Statute § 595.02, subd. 1 …  (d) A licensed physician or surgeon, dentist, or chiropractor shall not, without the consent of the patient, be allowed to disclose any information or any opinion based thereon which the professional acquired in attending the patient in a professional capacity, and which was necessary to enable the professional to act in that capacity; after the decease of the patient, in an action to recover insurance benefits, where the insurance has been in existence two years or more, the beneficiaries shall be deemed to be the personal representatives of the deceased person for the purpose of waiving this privilege, and no oral or written waiver of the privilege shall have any binding… Read more {+}

Vehicle Forfeitures Can Be Reversed On Constitutional Grounds

Minnesota Courts are bound by published opinions of higher courts, including Federal Circuit Courts.   Minnesota is in the 8th Circuit’s jurisdiction.  We have recently become alerted that some defendants are still losing highly valuable assets, most notably vehicles, for DWI and Drug Offenses through a process called forfeiture.  Forfeiture involves the government taking your asset on the grounds that it was used in a crime.  This area of law is in a state of flux right now on a number of levels.  If you’ve been accused of or convicted of a Controlled Substance Crime involving a motor vehicle or DWI, and you’ve been served with a notice of forfeiture, you should immediately have your case reviewed by a competent attorney as soon as possible.   The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled in Timbs-v.-Indiana-17-1091_5536 that the excessive fines clause of the Federal Constitution applies to actions by States and Municipalities as well, and that forfeiture of valuable assets is a form of punishment.  The ruling does not specifically hold that all forfeitures are unconstitutionally excessive.  Rather, it simply states that the clause applies to the actions of local government as well and a district court which rules a forfeiture to be excessive punishment has the power and discretion to do so.  No particular bright line has been drawn as to what amount of loss is considered “excessive.”   Much of the analysis then likely turns on the degree of offense, the record of the individual, and the value of the asset.  Contact an attorney today for a free consultation.  Any and all documentation may be sent by email for free review to alex@mnlegaldefense.com Vehicle Forfeitures Can Be Reversed On Constitutional Grounds was last modified: November 22nd, 2019 by Alex DeMarco

Steps to Take after Being Released for Minnesota DWI

You went out for the night and got caught drinking and driving. You have been arrested and released with a driving while intoxicated. So, now what should you do? Here are the first steps that you need to take after being released for a DWI. First you need to hire a lawyer. You want a lawyer who is specialized in DWI cases to help you through this whole process. It is important that you don’t miss a single step or you will be more likely to serve time. A great lawyer is worth it because they are skilled at what they do and will ensure that you have a favorable outcome (or as best as you can expect)! Then, you need a chemical dependency evaluation. A chemical dependency evaluation, required by the court system, is used to determine whether or not you have a dependency on drugs or alcohol. The agency who runs the test will talk to you about your past use of drugs and alcohol, if you have ever been treated for dependency on drugs and alcohol, and if you have ever had any trouble with the law. The information from your arrest will also go into consideration. You may need to submit an urine sample. You must follow the recommendations from your chemical dependency evaluation. When your assessment is done, you will get a written copy. In it, you will see your results and diagnosis. If there is any sign of abuse or dependence, you may have to go to an Alcohol Drug Information School or a DUI Victim Impact Panel. Just make sure that you do whatever is required of you as soon as you can. You will have to attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Impact Panel. The goal at the panel is to prevent repeat DWI offenders. They do this by holding conferences where you can learn how many people are affected by drunk drivers. You are going to hear from family members who have lost people that they love because of someone’s bad decisions. You may also hear from people who are seriously injured due to drunk drivers. If you are allowed to drive, you will need an Ignition Interlock. This is a device that prevents your car from starting if you are drinking. You have to breathe into it like a breathalyzer before you get behind the wheel of your car. Once you take the test, your vehicle will start as long as you haven’t had anything to drink. If you have been drinking, you will have to take the test again before your car will start. You must remember that if you have an Ignition Interlock, the results will be stored and given to the court. If you are continuing to drink and try to get behind the wheel, the courts are going to find out. For this reason, you need to get your drinking under control. If your alcohol limit was .16 or more, you are going to have… Read more {+}

When Driving Drunk Becomes Necessary

There are two fundamental ways in which a DWI is challenged. One is a legal challenge which deals with the constitutionality of the progressive intrusion into one’s fundamental Fourth Amendment Rights. This primarily asks a court to suppress evidence in a DWI case before any sort of trial. It could raise a challenge to the basis for stopping the vehicle in a case. If the stop is legally proper, one could challenge the basis for the expansion of the the traffic stop into a DWI investigation, basically determining whether it was proper to ask a person to come out of the vehicle for standardized field sobriety testing. It could raise a challenge to whether there was probable cause to arrest the driver after such investigation.  Finally, a challenge may be raised to the Constitutionality of taking a chemical test without a warrant, which was recently litigated in a number of DWI cases in Minnesota and ultimately the Supreme Court of the United States ruling in |State v. Bernard|. DWI cases are difficult to challenge, but most of the successful litigation and positive case law come from these challenges. There can also be challenges raised to the science of DWI testing. The state is advancing a scientific test as evidence of a crime, namely operating a motor vehicle while the person has an alcohol concentration above .08. The State thereby “must establish that the test itself is reliable and that its administration in the particular instance conformed to the procedure necessary to ensure reliability. “Without a foundation guaranteeing the test’s reliability, the test result is not probative as a measurement and hence is irrelevant.” State v. Dille, 258 N.W.2d 565, 567 (Minn.1977).  It is very difficult to do this without involving an independent expert regarding the science of alcohol testing. It is often not successful to challenge the reliability of the chemical test as a matter of law before a judge. However, there can be success in challenging it before a jury, because the fact is that precise testing for alcohol concentration is not very good science, and the police officers themselves know very little about it. However there are also what are known as “affirmative defenses” to DWI.  There are not many, but one in particular which Alex DeMarco recently advanced at trial, and with success, is that of “necessity.” What is a necessity defense? It’s actually a defense that arises from English Common law and may apply to a number of different crimes and circumstances. Essentially this defense is made in a circumstance where the driver did not want to drive the car, but felt they had to in order to escape an immediate danger. Many lawyers when faced with a case of necessity give up afte researching the case law. That is because there are numerous rulings that have significantly limited when the defense is available. Many published cases deal with circumstances where the trial court ruled the jury could not consider a necessity defense, and the court of appeals and other higher… Read more {+}

BREAKING: United States Supreme Court holds stabbing you with a needle is the only thing protected by the fourth amendment

BREAKING NOW, Bernard’s second failure (click for full opinion). In the second blow to the Fourth Amendment in a week, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled today that, short of stabbing you to get to you blood, the Police can pretty much search you for nearly any evidence they want, post arrest. BREAKING: United States Supreme Court holds stabbing you with a needle is the only thing protected by the fourth amendment was last modified: April 17th, 2020 by Alex DeMarco