Tracker Pixel for Entry

Get Tough

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Say Anything | December 18th, 2015

Photo by Bafometro

Drunk driving law may get overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court

Imagine you stand accused of stealing items from your neighbor and the police want to search your home for evidence of that theft without a warrant. Would we not be outraged if there were a law on the books making you immediately guilty of a crime equivalent to theft for declining a warrantless search?

What good is the 4th amendment if it is illegal to turn down a search for which the police do not have a warrant?

Yet that’s the very situation North Dakota’s legislature created in 2013 in passing a “get tough” drunk driving bill.

They essentially criminalized the exercise of our 4th amendment privacy rights during investigations into inebriated driving.

Now their actions are going to get a review from the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Legislature has made it illegal to refuse a warrantless chemical sobriety test ordered by law enforcement. Section 39-20-01 of the North Dakota Century Code, as amended by the 2013 legislature, states that “refusal to take the test directed by the law enforcement officer is a crime punishable in the same manner as driving under the influence.”

You may be under the impression that refusing the chemical test was already a crime before 2013. What really happened before is that the state would take civil action, suspending or revoking driving privileges.

By turning a civil penalty into a criminal penalty - the exact same penalty as the crime for which law enforcement is gathering evidence, no less - the Legislature crossed a line into new legal territory, and they may come to regret it.

The U.S. Supreme Court will now review two cases out of North Dakota challenging the law, as well as a case out of Minnesota challenging that state’s similar statute.

In the North Dakota cases, our state supreme court has stood behind the Legislature..

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem stands behind the law as well, which he lobbied for.

“My office worked with the legislature in crafting laws that made refusing to take a chemical test a crime when there is probable cause to believe the driver is operating under the influence, and the North Dakota Supreme Court upheld the law as constitutional,” Stenehjem told me in a statement when I inquired about the high court’s decision to review the law. “Since the laws were enacted, we have seen the number of DUI convictions in the state decrease.”

Even if a decline in drunk driving can be attributed to this law, its implications for our rights - and not just our 4th amendment rights - are disturbing.

Consider our 1st amendment rights, for instance. Certain religions have very strict doctrinal beliefs about the removal of blood from the human body. If someone objects to a blood screening for alcohol or drugs on religious grounds, are we to find them guilty of a DUI for exercising their spirituality?

Or how about the 5th amendment which prohibits “double jeopardy,” or the trying of a person twice for the same crime? Since it is possible to charge a person both with a DUI, and with “a crime punishable in the same manner as” a DUI for refusing a chemical test, is that not double jeopardy? Or trying a person twice over for the same crime?

Further, the 6th amendment guarantees every American the right to “have the assistance of counsel for his defense.” A person who has been arrested, and who is being pressured by law enforcement for assent to a search, might reasonably feel confused and desire consultation with legal counsel before making any decisions which could put them in legal jeopardy.

Could law enforcement deem the delay of a chemical test until a suspect’s lawyer can be contacted as a refusal punishable as a crime?

Drunk drivers are not typically looked upon sympathetically by the public, for perfectly understandable reasons. Yet our constitution guarantees certain clearly defined rights to even the most heinous of criminals.

We all want murders and rapists in jail, but we still acknowledge that police cannot run roughshod over our rights to find and arrest those people. So how than can we countenance a law which makes it explicitly illegal to exercise some of those rights?

Recently in:

FARGO – Expressing disgust over an interview with a local “pro-white activist” on Valley News Live “Point of View,” concerned citizens have started a campaign to pull advertising from the show.Concerned citizens are…

Culture

The pyramid of the prairie

by Sabrina Hornung

Nekoma tactical area purchased by the Cavalier County JDAPhotos by Sabrina Hornung“These have all been cleaned and filled with sand and concrete,” said Randy Mehlhoff, who serves on both the Langdon Chamber of Commerce Board of…

Sunday, August 20, noon-5pmND Horse Park, 5180 19th Ave N, FargoFood trucks from Fargo-Moorhead and all over the Upper Midwest. Soft drinks, alcohol, prize giveaways, kids jumpy gym, craft vendors, live band, live radio broadcast.…

Our opinion: We all breathe the same air, and we all drank the same beer.Last weekend I helped a pal plan a small festival in an even smaller town. In fact, you may find me bartending there once in a blue moon, flexing my…

Gadfly

Crazy like a fox

by Ed Raymond

Can we learn anything after we know it all?There’s a 100-page book written by a high school dropout that should be read by all high schoolers, college education students, teachers, and politicians. Michael J.Fox of movie and TV…

The moment of truth has arrived. After seven weeks of sampling and judging some of the finest libations in the area the results for this year’s Cocktail Showdown have arrived. Christopher Larson, Raul Gomez and Sabrina Hornung…

On Wednesday July 19, Luna had their first and very solid convergence with Junkyard Brewing. The beer dinner was comprised of five killer Luna courses with five stellar Junkyard beers. The results were extraordinary. Initially I…

Formed in 1988, The Supersuckers have gained the moniker of being “the greatest rock n’ roll band in the world.” In 2015 lead singer/bassist Eddie Spaghetti was diagnosed with stage 3 oropharynx cancer. Thankfully he…

Reteaming with his “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” leads Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, filmmaker David Lowery has a very compelling tale to tell in “A Ghost Story.” Somber yet funny, and comfortable with exclamations of…

Interactive Hive through Plains Art Museum goes to marketPhoto by Jerry ShervenThis summer, interns between the ages of 11 and 18 participated in Buzz Lab, a program through the Plains Art Museum that gives students the opportunity…

‘Heathers’ hits the Empire stage in Grand ForksBefore the pink-clad Plastics or Cher’s group of popular beauties in “Clueless,” the shoulder pad-wearing, croquet mallet-wielding Heathers ruled the halls of Westerberg High…

Humor

​Talking to strangers

by Sabrina Hornung

“I don’t have a tour, like, on the back of a sweatshirt,” comedian Paula Poundstone says. “I go out every weekend. This weekend I went out Friday, Saturday and Monday. Mostly it’s Friday/Saturday or Thursday through…

If you’ve never had Mankato’s Organ Grinder Amber Ale, you should probably put it near the top of your “must try” lists.If you are a fan of Mankato Brewery you may have been a bit confused the last time you went looking for…

Essential oils. They are all the buzz lately. It seems everyone has heard of them or is purchasing them. Some people know how to use them; others are just interested in the wonder of their complex scents.Essential oils are as…

Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

A few months ago I wrote about the long, strange saga of Jason Halek, the fellow who dumped 800,000 gallons of poisonous oilfield brine down an abandoned oil well south of Dickinson. Back in April of this year, he pleaded guilty to…