Drivers in the state of Minnesota are required under state law to consent to alcohol testing as part of the conditions for receiving a driving license. Refusing to take a breath, blood or urine test can result in fines, loss or suspension of one’s driving record.

In the following article, we’ll go over Minnesota’s implied consent laws, the penalties for refusing a test, and when it may be acceptable to do so.

Defense Lawyer for DWI Test Refusal

Being pulled over for a DWI is stressful. Whether you’re guilty or not, you will likely be pressured into submitting to an impaired driving test. While breath, blood and urine tests are typically legal requirements under state law, you should always consult with a lawyer before doing so.

The lawyers at James Blumberg Law are seasoned DWI attorneys. We have decades of experience fighting all manner of DWI charges, including test refusals. Whether you have already been charged with a DWI test refusal or are considering doing so, you need to contact a strong attorney to represent you in court and to the police.

Call James Blumberg Law today at (952) 431-7758 to set up a free consultation.

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Implied Consent

The phrase “implied consent” refers to Minnesota Statute 169A.51 – Chemical Tests for Intoxication. The statute requires all registered drivers to agree to alcohol and drug testing if they are pulled over. The test must be administered by a police officer.

An officer may administer the breath, blood or urine test if:

  1. The officer has probable cause to believe the person was driving, operating or was in control of a motor vehicle while impaired due to alcohol or illegal or prescription drugs.
  2. The operator has been placed lawfully under arrest for impaired driving.
  3. The operator has been involved in a motor vehicle accident or collision resulting in property damage, personal injury or death.
  4. The operator refused to take a screening test (also known as a field test) or the test indicated an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more

In short, the testing officer must have clear evidence that you have been drinking. If they do, then you are legally required to acquiesce to either a breath, blood or urine test.

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Breath vs. Blood and Urine Tests

Breath tests are meant to be the first step in alcohol testing, as it is the least invasive. The state of Minnesota uses the Datamaster DMT Breath Test. The breathalyzer measures the absorption of infrared light to detect parts per million (ppm) of alcohol in your breath.

How a Breathalyzer Works

Breathalyzers analyze breath content because your body’s metabolic process. As your body breaks down food, it either secretes via your skin (sweating), via your digestive tract, or via your lungs. As alcohol is broken down, its ethanol particles find their way into your bloodstream, and are exhaled as you breathe.

The breathalyzer compares your total breath content to determine the amount of ethanol in your bloodstream. These devices are generally accurate, but can be defective or operated incorrectly. Additionally, certain factors like drinking a high-concentrate shot just before the test, or even chewing on Spearmint gum, can throw false positives for overall intoxication levels.

Urine Tests

If you refuse to take a breath test or are incapable of consenting to a breath test, then you may be required to take a urine test. Unlike breath tests, urine tests are extremely accurate. However, like breath tests, urine tests are not infallible. Factors like urinary tract infections (UTI) or individual factors like a high EtG conversion rate may result in false positives. The time you take the test also matters.

You may also be required to take a urine test if the officer has reason to believe that you are impaired because of an intoxicating substance such as THC (cannabis) or some other drug, prescription or otherwise.

This may be in addition to a breath test.

Blood Tests

The alternative to a urine test is a blood test. If you were not eligible to take a breath test, or were required to take a urine test but refused, then you may elect to take a blood test.

The officer must offer you both alternatives if additional testing is required. However, the District Attorney may charge you with DWI test refusal if you refuse to allow the police department to administer the test.

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When Can (and Should) You Refuse a Blood Test?

It is not illegal to refuse a preliminary breath test. If you have not been arrested, and the police officer does not have a search warrant, then you are allowed to refuse “field sobriety tests,” like balance and focus tests. These tests are used to arrest you and take you back to the police station, where you will be subjected to a breath or blood test.

Once you have been arrested, the police officer will obtain a search warrant, and you will be required to take a full breath, blood and/or urine test. It is illegal to refuse these.

For a first DWI, it is generally recommended to accept the test and allow a lawyer to represent you in court, as a first-time DWI is a misdemeanor, without aggravating factors. However, if you are facing a first DWI and you suspect that your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) may be more than .16 ( a felony amount), then you may consider refusing the test and facing those penalties instead.

You will always have the option to consult with a lawyer before deciding to take the test. If the officer does not provide you the opportunity to do so, then the test is not valid.

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Penalties for DWI Test Refusal

Refusing to accept a legally required DWI test may result in administrative penalties including:

  1. Driver’s license revocation for 30 days to 1 year
  2. Seizure of your vehicle

However, if you have a prior DWI conviction within the past 10 years or a previous revocation for a test refusal, then you may face much harsher penalties. These can include longer revocation times, requirements to use an ignition interlock device, and more.

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How can a DWI Lawyer Help?

If you have been pulled over for what you suspect is a DWI, you should contact your lawyer immediately. Your lawyer will have in-depth knowledge of your particular situation and advise you accordingly.

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Additional Resources

Minnesota Statute 169A.51 – Read the original statutes to develop a more thorough understanding of the state’s DWI testing laws.

How Do Breath Tests Work – Read more on Minnesota’s driving laws on the Department of Public Safety website. The linked article provides additional information on DWI sanctioning, ignition interlock devices and basic legal limits.

Implied Consent Made Easy – Minnesota’s Jody Oscarson, the state’s Impaired Driving Coordinator, created a simple presentation to provide an overview of the state’s laws regarding implied consent.

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Hire a DWI Test Refusal Attorney in Apple Valley, Minnesota

As a former Assistant Dakota County Attorney, James Blumberg is familiar with how prosecutors build their cases and knows the pitfalls of drunk driving prosecution. He will go after these weaknesses and build the strongest possible case for you, both on criminal and administrative matters.

If you face a DWI charge in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, including Dakota County,Scott County, Sibley County, Rice County, Olmsted County, Dodge County, and Carver Count then contact Apple Valley DWI lawyer James Blumberg today.

Call (952) 431-7758 to set up a free consultation.

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