Minn. House votes to repeal, clear up DUI immunity for lawmakers - KMSP-TV

Minn. House votes to repeal, clear up DUI immunity for lawmakers

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Minnesota House members voted late Wednesday night to essentially repeal their protection from getting arrested for drunk driving and other crimes.

Current state law allows them immunity from arrest on certain violations. In fact, they even get a card that many call a "get out of jail free card."

However, the House of Representatives passed a bill that could change all that by altering the law so that any lawmaker who commits "felony, gross misdemeanor, or misdemeanor" immediately violates a "breach of the peace" under the Minnesota constitution and can therefore be arrested.

Many lawmakers argued that established case law already threw out the protections for legislators, but they voted for the bill anyway to clear it up in state statute. It passed on a 115 to 13 vote.

Senator Ron Latz issued the following statement regarding the bill:

"Legislators can and should be arrested if they drive drunk. This is current law, and it is rightly enforced by the authorities. The U.S. Supreme Court decided this over 100 years ago, in USv. Williamson (1908), cited with approval in Gravel v. US (1972), stating unequivocally that the so-called "privilege from arrest" language in the USConstitution, mirrored in the Minnesota Constitution, applies only in cases of civil arrest and not to criminal conduct. Thus, the proposed bill's only value is to correct a misperception, largely created by its own advocates and recent media reports. That is not a sufficient justification for passing laws.

 

We can accomplish the education needed in other ways, and I remain committed to working together with the advocates,law enforcement and all interested parties toward our shared goal."

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