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Midwestern DUI decision may ultimately influence Wisconsin law

Wisconsin residents are regularly affected by the decisions of legislators and judges in other states. When state law is constructed either by legislation or judicial decision, it is often influenced by the decisions made by statehouses and courts in neighboring jurisdictions.

A recent Minnesota case may ultimately influence Wisconsin DUI defense. The Minnesota Court of Appeals recently ruled that certain treatment of blood alcohol samples by law enforcement can lead to the exclusion of those samples at trial.

Specifically, the Court held that because Minnesotans accused of drunk driving may choose to independently test blood alcohol samples, refusal by law enforcement to release such samples for testing warrants the exclusion of samples as trial evidence.

The court handed down this ruling in a case involving a man accused of drunk driving whose blood alcohol sample was destroyed by the state before he was given a chance to test it independently.

The opinion handed down expressed the need to preserve the rights of the accused under such circumstances. It noted in part that, "The right to determine whether evidence is 'favorable to an accused' does not belong to the state: the state may not determine what evidence is definitely, probably, or possibly not favorable and then destroy it after the accused has specifically and in writing requested that it be preserved without violating due process."

Given the consistent problems with breathalyzer and other blood-alcohol testing accuracy nationwide, it is important to preserve the right of the accused to have their samples independently tested. The Minnesota verdict is a victory for the rights of the accused everywhere.

Source: TheNewspaper.com, "Minnesota: Court Rules Police Cannot Destroy DUI Blood Sample," March 29, 2012

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