The case of Bernard v. State of Minnesota was argued before the United States Supreme Court last week. The issue is whether the State of Minnesota's law making it a crime to refuse to take a breath test in the context of a driving while intoxicated arrest violates the Constitution of the United States of America.
From a right here, right now perspective, very few Minnesotans stand to be affected by Bernard. If you have a pending DUI or DWI charge, it is possible the State's evidence against you may be suppressed, or inadmissible, at a trial. Without evidence of your blood alcohol content, you cannot be convicted of driving under the influence.
On a more general level, Bernard is a brilliant reminder of the ability of one person and a lawyer working to ensure the Government properly observes our rights and privileges as Americans. Lawyers are widely disliked, and too often properly so, but there must also be appropriate appreciation for the protection lawyers strive to raise for people.
I have no interest in protecting drunk drivers, to be sure. This article is to simply renew the awareness of something that too many citizens in the United States seem to have lost appreciation for—the government and its role in our lives. The government, particularly from a criminal and regulatory role, has a limited role. We are a country born out of independence from government involvement. Let's not forget.
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