JUST IN: 'SCOTUS' RULES THAT POLICE DO NOT NEED WARRANT TO CONDUCT BREATH TESTS FOR BrAC EVIDENCE.
First, and most importantly, SCOTUS, in a decision penned by Justice Alito, ruled that police are not required to obtain search warrants to request and conduct breath tests upon those arrested for impaired driving. Generally, the Court found that breath tests, unlike blood tests, are far less intrusive and less invasive. The Court also emphasized the hardship that would be imposed on law enforcement if police were forced to obtain a warrant in every case. This is a big departure from the reasoning in Missouri v. McNeely, 569 U. S. ___, ___ (2013), the case that ruled that the warrants must usually be obtained for BAC blood draws, despite any convenience that causes.
The Birchfield decision upholds the reasoning of the lower court Supreme Court for the State of Minnesota in Bernard, which found that a breath test is a "search incident to arrest" (like a search of the clothing of an arrested person). That particular reasoning made no sense to many legal scholars who, like me, believed SCOTUS would never adopt it.
In Wisconsin, and especially in La Crosse County, breath tests are usually only requested in non-criminal, 1st Offense cases. If there is a refusal to give a breath test, then no test other test is usually requested, and the person is hit with civil license penalties only.
On the other hand, Minnesota, ND, and other states, have statutes that make it a crime to refuse BAC testing. It was believed these statutes would be found unconstitutional because they criminalize something people have a right to do, i.e., insist on a warrant. For Minnesota, and its breath tests at least, that did not happen. But the decision also makes clear (thankfully) that people cannot be punished criminally for refusing blood tests.
It is important to note that blood and urine testing have been treated differently in recent appellate rulings in Minnesota, which cases are now up for review before he Minnesota high court. The case involving blood testing, Minnesota v. Trahan, will be resolved by the Birchfield decision.
There is much more to report on this decision after it has been thoroughly scrutinized. But for now, it appears that Minnesota's 'criminal refusal' statute, at least in relation to breath testing, remains constitutional. RATS!!