The Minnesota Court of Appeals released a decision reaffirming the Commissioner of Public Safety’s ability to cancel driving privileges for drivers that have a no-alcohol-use restriction, also known as a “B-Card.” In Albertson v. Commissioner of Public Safety, No. A12-0255 (Minn. Ct. App Nov. 19, 2012) (unpublished opinion), officers entered a home without a warrant, consent, or permission to investigate suspicious driving conduct. After entering the home, an officer noticed that an individual in the home smelled like alcohol. The individual admitted to drinking, performed field sobriety tests, and provided a breath sample confirming alcohol consumption. Because that individual had a no-alcohol-use restriction on his driver’s license, the matter was referred to the Commissioner of Public Safety. The Commissioner cancelled the individual’s driver’s license for non-compliance with the no-alcohol-use restriction and a district court sustained the cancellation.
The individual appealed arguing that he should keep his driving privileges because the evidence of the violation was illegally obtained. Although law enforcement generally cannot use evidence that is obtained in violation of an individual’s right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, the Minnesota Court of Appeals determined that the rule prohibiting reliance on this evidence, otherwise known as the exclusionary rule, did not apply to driver’s license matters under Minn. Stat. §171.19. Because excluding evidence obtained in violation of constitutional rights is excluded from criminal DWI and civil implied consent proceedings, the court concluded that it was unnecessary to exclude such evidence in a Section 171.19 proceeding for license cancellation. Accordingly, the court held that the individual’s driving privileges were lawfully cancelled and the exclusionary role did not apply to administrative proceeding under Section 171.19.
This case highlights the need for retaining an attorney when facing DWI charges. A DWI conviction or driver’s license revocation can have a life long impact such as eventually being subject to a no-alcohol-use restriction. As the case discussed above demonstrates, these impacts can include being subject to driver’s license cancellation despite a police officer’s unlawful search. An experienced attorney can help guide you through the criminal and civil proceedings following a DWI arrest and help you avoid situations like the one in the Albertson case.