Drunk drivers, ‘those people,’ Nice Rides, shaved heads, and Scandinavians (5 x 8 – 10/31/13)


In a state where one out of every seven drivers has a conviction for driving under the influence, we rather expected more debate over last week’s Minnesota Supreme Court ruling (which I wrote about here) that police don’t need warrants to extract urine or blood to determine whether drivers are drunk or stoned.

At issue is the state’s implied consent law. Technically, you have a “choice” whether to submit to testing. If you do, of course, it can be used against you in court. If you don’t, under the law, you could be charged with a crime. What kind of a choice is that? The law was based on the assumption that people would delay making the choice until they sobered up.

After the ruling, the anonymous public defender who writes the blog, Not for the Monosyllabic, wrote a scathing review of the decision:

This ruling is so off-base it’s insane. If being arrested, handcuffed, transported to a police station, and then told to consent to a test or face a criminal charge isn’t a coercive situation, it’s hard to imagine what is. This undermines the very idea that consent has to be voluntarily given in order to be valid. It guts that whole concept, because now it’s going to be nearly impossible to argue that a suspect was coerced into consenting to a search, short of the police beating the suspect or something completely outrageous like that. Threats of new, separate, and additional criminal charges aren’t coercive, apparently.

That sent several us to Twitter to discuss the post and the decision again, so our PD friend writes more today:

So far, the arguments at the district court level are precisely that–the government cannot condition a privilege on agreeing to a warrantless search, as that violates a person’s right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. While there is certainly more argument to be made in a straight test refusal case than there was in Brooks, the language of Brooks seems to shoot the test refusal cases argument right in the heart. Although the Court determined that Brooks consented in his cases, this language is problematic for test refusal and implied consent cases, as the Court clearly believes that conditioning a privilege on a waiver of your constitutional rights is completely reasonable and not at all problematic. Because, as I previously noted, the Court missed that whole thing about being charged with a separate crime for test refusal and why that’s different than just losing your license temporarily.

Of course, it is problematic, because exactly where does this end? There are lots of privileges we have as citizens. Will they all be conditional on waiving your constitutional rights so that it’s easier for law enforcement to “catch the bad guys?” It’s a slippery slope till we are at a place where you must consent to allow officers into your home or otherwise search your personal items or lose a privilege (AND in Minnesota, be charged with a whole separate crime for extra fun!).

What case might eventually reach the court that will better test the state’s implied consent law? I couldn’t help but notice this line in yesterday’s story about Jonathan Markle, who was sentenced to probation and ordered to give 100 speeches about the death of his daughter, who died when the SUV he was driving drunk plunged through the ice of Lake Minnetonka:

Markle plans to appeal an earlier ruling of Quam’s, in which the judge found that drawing Markle’s blood was constitutional and the test results were admissible evidence, according to Chuck Laszewski, spokesman for the Hennepin County Attorney’s office.

Related: We The People Are Being Misled: The Truth About Constitutional Amendments (WBUR’s Cognoscenti).


Jennifer Ball of Minneapolis, who writes on the Scary Mommy blog, was helping on a food drive at her child’s school recently. Collections were going well, she said. The bins were full of things like rice pasta, artichoke hearts packed in seasoned oil, gluten-free crackers, olive tapenade and quinoa.

“The parents at this school are amazing,” she said.

That’s when a woman walking by added, “Those people won’t know what most of that is. I mean, really, quinoa?”

Jennifer is one of those people, it turns out. She visits a food shelf.

I visited the food shelf a total of 5 times in about 11 months. I only told one friend. I told my kids, and when I did, I expected them to laugh, or get angry, or embarrassed. They didn’t do any of those things. They helped me put the groceries away, and they did so quietly, not saying much other than the occasional exclamation of “Yum!” or “Gross!”. I can recall for you, on command, most of the meals I made with food shelf goodies. Oven roasted chicken with quartered rosemary potatoes. Turkey chili. French toast. More mac and cheese than I care to admit. One of my favorites was an organic risotto, flavored with mushrooms and olive oil.

She wanted to tell the woman with the condescending comment off, of course. But she didn’t.

“I like quinoa,” she said.

“Well yes, of course,” the woman replied. “You’re not one of those people.”


Nice Ride Minnesota, the people who put the bikes-for-rent at locations all around the Twin Cities, has sued the Canadian company that provides the hardware for the bike-share program.

The company in Montreal, in a classic display of linguistic gymnastics, acknowledges it’s having liquidity problems but blames it on strong international sales.

Nice Ride wants to expand its system and The Atlantic’s Cities blog sees trouble ahead:

For metro areas like Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Minneapolis-St. Paul, which rely either not at all or much less heavily on corporate sponsors to fund their bike-share systems, questions surrounding PBSC’s continued financial viability remain. Nice Ride Minnesota’s filing this week is unlikely to be the last we hear about problems that some of the world’s largest bike-share systems are having with their main equipment supplier.

Nice Ride had a breakthrough year in the Twin Cities in 2013, with the number of people hopping on a bike up 9 percent over 2012.

Related: Bike helmet mandate for all sought by pediatricians (CBC News).


Last month, Margaret Vos, the retired director of St. Cloud State University Atwood Memorial Center, was asked if she’d take part in Shave for the Cure, an event to raise awareness and money for breast cancer. A few hours after saying “yes,” she was diagnosed with breast cancer, the St. Cloud Times reports.


Sturdy, blonde, and Scandinavian. That’s what many people think of when you say Minnesota. How different are we, really? TPT’s new series, “Are You MN Enough,” tackles the question.

Bonus I: Part of me wants to have a life simple enough that I can make getting quoted the highlight of my day, and life, apparently.

Bonus II: And for this one, I have no words. San Diego State’s annual Halloween game.

Bonus III: Why Are Kids Who Get Less Candy Happier On Halloween? (NPR)

Bonus IV: N.Y. School Bus Driver Saves Suicidal Woman From Jumping; Students Cheer.


Does voting support a broken political system?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Immigration reform makes strange political bedfellows.

Second hour: Heroin use in Duluth.

Third hour: One of America’s most popular living poets, Billy Collins, discusses his new collection of poems “Aimless Love.”

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): MPR’s Laura McCallum moderates St. Paul mayoral debate with Chris Coleman and Tim Holden.

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – The little-known cost of war: the devastating consequences that burn pits have on soldiers.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – MPR hosts the final debate in the St. Paul mayor’s race between incumbent Chris Coleman and his primary challenger, Tim Holden. MPR’s Curtis Gilbert will wrap it up.

Forty years ago, a movie frightened audiences out of their wits. The director says the trick was that The Exorcist had a long, suspenseful build up. It took almost an hour before the really scary stuff began. NPR considers the Exorcist at 40 and a conversation with the man who made it.