This year’s award recipient is Minnesota DWI Task Force chair and Assistant Minneapolis City Attorney David Bernstein.
The voluntary DWI Task Force was led successfully by its previous chair for more than 30 years, so it was obvious that finding a suitable replacement would be difficult. After a year during which the group started to falter, David stepped up to lead the group. As a city attorney specializing in the DWI field, David was already committed to the issue—but he was agreeing to much more time and research by chairing this group. Since then, David has brought new life into the task force, and the volunteer membership has continued to grow.
The most difficult issue for the task force chair is the legislative agenda. David created a legislative review committee, and through his direction, the task force has been active at the legislature for the last three years.
In the past year it was extremely important to pass a piece of legislation developed by the DWI Task Force regarding enforcement. The U.S. and Minnesota Supreme Courts issued rulings in 2016 that changed the DWI/DUI arrest process for Minnesota, but there was not a statute to recognize the now-required use of warrants for blood and urine tests, and the Implied Consent Advisory needed to be changed. It was critical to make laws to fit the new rulings. David spearheaded this major effort, which involved many meetings and lots of give and take even before it got to the legislature.
The second hurdle was getting the bill heard and voted on at the capitol. The proposed bill nearly died in the legislative process several times, but David’s ability to explain this legislation was key to getting members to understand its intricacies. His ability to reach across the aisle and work so well with the defense bar kept the bill alive. Without David’s leadership and tenacity, this important change would not have happened.