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Refusing a Blood, Breath, or Urine Test in Minnesota

Under Minnesota law, anyone who drives or is otherwise in physical control of a motor vehicle within the state’s boundaries is subject to Minnesota’s “implied consent law." A chemical test in the form of a blood, breath or urine test may be required if a police officer has reason to believe the person is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

In Minnesota, the DWI law states that it is a crime to drive or operate a motor vehicle anywhere in the state while under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance (drugs), a hazardous substance, or any combination thereof. It is unlawful to drive or operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater in Minnesota and all the 50 states.

It is also unlawful to have any amount of a Schedule I or a Schedule II controlled substance in the body, other than marijuana. What’s more, under Minnesota Statutes, section 169A.52 (implied consent law); it is unlawful to refuse to submit to a chemical test of a person’s blood, breath, or urine.

Each state has enacted its own version of an “implied consent law," and the state of Minnesota has one of the harshest implied consent laws in the nation. Under Minnesota’s law, the state assumes that whenever someone is operating a motor vehicle anywhere in the state, they have already provided their consent to submit to a chemical test of their breath, blood, or urine for the sole purpose of determining whether the presence of alcohol, and/or controlled, or hazardous substances is in the person’s bloodstream.

Typically, a chemical test is performed after a routine traffic stop, or after the police officer has reason to believe that driver is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Chemical tests in the form of a blood, breath, or urine test are performed at the direction of a law enforcement officer who has probable cause to believe the person has been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In order for the police officer to have probable cause, he or she generally observes the driver driving erratically or in a manner to give suspicion of drunk driving. After stopping and questioning the driver, the police officer will administer standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs), and they will administer a preliminary breath test (PBT). After each of these steps have been completed, and based on the driver’s performance of these tests, if the officer believes the person is guilty of impaired driving, the officer may insist that the driver submit to a more in-depth evidentiary test of the driver’s breath, blood, or urine.

Before the police officer administers the test, he must first read what is referred to as the “implied consent advisory" statement to the driver. This statement explains that the test is mandatory, and that refusing to take the test is a crime in Minnesota, and the driver will be told that they have a right to consult with an attorney before they take the test. If the evidentiary chemical test is requested without the implied consent advisory statement being given, the person can still be criminally charged and prosecuted if they fail the test or if they refuse to take the test; however, the administrative sanctions cannot be levied against the individual.

If the driver is unconscious due to being injured in an accident or due to passing out from the drugs or alcohol, then consent is assumed to not have been withdrawn and the chemical test can still be administered.

Under § 169A.51 of the Minnesota Statutes, even if a person has submitted to a breath test, they may still be required to submit to a blood or urine test if the officer has probable cause to believe the person is under the influence of a controlled substance or a hazardous substance. Action can be taken against a person who refuses to take a blood or urine test only when the alternative blood or urine test was offered to them.

In certain circumstances it may be necessary to perform more than one breath test. If two breath tests are deficient, then it can be considered a refusal.

What type of test will be performed is up to the discretion of the police officer. If someone refuses a blood or urine test, then they must be offered another type of chemical test (breath, blood, or urine). Once the chemical test has been completed, the tests are sent to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), and results are made available within approximately ten days.

If a person refuses to submit to any type of chemical test (blood, breath, or urine), then the implied consent law can be put into effect during the arrest process. The person’s driver’s license can be taken away immediately and the person is given a seven-day temporary license before their license withdrawal goes into effect. The length of the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) for refusal to submit to a chemical test is one year; however, it is reducible to 90 days with a DWI conviction for a first-time violation.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for DWI in Minnesota, it would be in your best interests to consult with a qualified attorney as soon as possible. By hiring an attorney, you can not only fight your DWI charges, but you may be successful in retaining your driver’s license and keeping your criminal record clean.

Additional resources provided by the author

Ramsay Law Firm, PLLC is a Minneapolis & St. Paul DWI defense law firm. The firm’s founder, Charles Ramsay has been included in the selection of Super Lawyers®, which is an honor that not more than 5 percent of attorneys in a state obtain. He was also among the top 40 of the criminal defense lawyers in Minnesota for the last two years and he was named as one of the Attorney’s of the Year in 2000 by Minnesota Lawyer. Attorney Ramsay was named a Super Lawyer by Minnesota Law & Politics, Twin Cities Business Monthly, and by St. Paul Magazine. To learn more about the firm’s DWI defense services, please call (888) 266-4940 or visit them online at http://www.minneapolisdwidefenselawyer.com.

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