Written by attorney Douglas Troy Kans

The Differences Between Minnesota Criminal DUI and Civil Implied Consent Cases

In Minnesota, every DUI or DWI can possibly stem into two cases: A criminal case and a civil case.

The criminal case, which is the DUI, basically results from a stop, an arrest, the collection of evidence, and whether or not your rights were preserved throughout the entire process.

The civil case, which is the Implied Consent proceeding, results from Minnesota’s Implied Consent Law, and whether or not your rights were preserved throughout the entire Implied Consent aspect of the DUI arrest.

Although the State has the burden of proof for both civil and criminal cases, the burden is different in each case. Similarly, you have rights in both the civil and criminal procedures, although those rights differ from one another in each proceeding.

Burden of Proof

In any criminal case, an officer must have a reasonable suspicion that the driver is doing something unlawful before he or she can stop the driver. To arrest the driver for DUI, the officer must also have probable cause to believe that the person in control of the vehicle is under the influence. Lastly, the officer must be able to collect evidence that proves beyond reasonable doubt that the driver was under the influence in order to later convict him or her for DUI.

Weaving and crossing the roadway’s traffic lines are examples of reasonably articulable suspicion. Probable cause, however, is a little more difficult to prove. An officer will likely ask the driver to step out of the vehicle and perform field sobriety tests such as walking a straight line in order to determine whether or not the driver is impaired, and whether or not an arrest can be made.

The standard of probable cause for an actual arrest and detention is actually a lower burden for an officer to meet. In order to actually convict an individual with DUI or DWI, the State must prove that the driver was either driving under the influence of alcohol, or has a blood alcohol concentration of at least .08 percent within two hours of driving.

Finally, the officer will ask the driver to take a chemical test, which is usually performed at the police station. This makes up the implied consent aspect of the DUI process, which is the moment the civil proceeding actually begins. The criminal procedure, however, is still ongoing.

When it comes to a DUI, the chemical testing is one of the most confusing parts of the entire process. It’s important to note that an individual has no absolute right to operate a motor vehicle, and that Minnesota can use its powers to limit, control, and regulate the use of the state’s streets and highways.

Since courts recognize how crucial driving is for most individuals to get to school, work and other destinations, driving privileges cannot be discriminately or impulsively withdrawn or denied. In line with this, the Minnesota Implied Consent Statute was enacted in 1961, which must be acknowledged by everyone who receives a driver’s license. Simply speaking, this statute states that in exchange for driving privileges, the driver agrees to give evidence against him or herself in the form of a chemical test in the event of a DUI arrest.

The state’s burden of proof in an Implied Consent proceeding is significantly lower than in the criminal case. It merely must be shown that the driver violated the state’s Implied Consent Law by not agreeing to take the required chemical test.


A driver has numerous rights in a criminal proceeding. The Miranda Warning, which you’ve probably seen on various television shows and movies, are examples of such valuable rights. You have the right not to speak with investigators, police officers, insurance agents, and other individuals who may be involved in your case. You have the right to seek legal representation from an attorney, the right to be informed of the charges against you, and the right to challenge these charges.

In a civil case, your rights are much more limited. You do have a constitutional right to speak to a lawyer during your implied consent encounters, however, as this aspect is considered as an evidence-gathering procedure.

Only an experienced and knowledgeable DUI attorney can determine whether or not your rights were preserved in all stages of the civil and criminal proceedings.

About The Author:

Douglas T. Kans of the Kans Law Firm, LLC is a criminal defense attorney in Minneapolis concentrating in Minnesota DWI cases.

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