Understanding the implied consent law

Minnesota enforces the implied consent law, which means consent for a breath test is given by simply driving anywhere in the state.

In Minnesota, those suspected of driving under the influence can be forced to submit to a breath test without a warrant as a part of the implied consent law. Because 1 in 7 drivers in the state has at least one conviction of driving while intoxicated, according to Minnesota Public Radio News, it is important for those in the state to understand the local laws.

Blood and breath tests are different

For some time, the implied consent laws treated both blood and breath tests similarly. In other words, drivers could be forced to comply with either if they were suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or another drug. However, a recent Supreme Court ruling differentiates between the two tests. According to this ruling, drivers can still be required to take a breath test, which measures the alcohol content in a driver's breath, without a warrant from a judge. A blood test, on the other hand, can be turned down by the person suspected of driving while intoxicated until a warrant can be obtained by the law enforcement agent.

Verbal consent not always necessary

In many states, the driver must give his or her verbal consent before a test can be administered. However, in Minnesota this is not necessarily the case. The implied consent law here assumes that any drivers in the state have already consented to a test should they be suspected of driving under the influence. If the driver is found unconscious, the chemical test can be administered in order to determine whether or not the person's blood alcohol content is above the legal limit.

Probable cause still needed

Even though it can be a criminal act to refuse a breath test, law enforcement officers still need probable cause before they can enforce a test. Probable cause can be built if certain steps are taken, such as the following:

  • A field sobriety test is administered.
  • There is evidence of impaired driving due to reckless behavior.
  • The driver is questioned and seems to be under the influence of either alcohol or drugs.

Often a preliminary breath test is administered before an official arrest is made. Drivers should get the opportunity to consult an attorney before the more rigorous tests are completed. Usually, an officer also has to explain the implied consent advisory statement prior to the testing.

If a person is suspected of driving while intoxicated in Minnesota, he or she may have to have a breath or blood test done even if it is not his or her wish. Whenever a DWI arrest is made, it may be beneficial to talk with an attorney who is familiar with this type of case.