What are the legal requirements for breath and blood alcohol tests?

Learn more about the legality of breath and blood alcohol tests. Find out when and how they can be done without violating the law.

When a person is pulled over on suspicion that he or she is driving under the influence of alcohol, an officer usually administers a variety of tests to determine if the person is impaired enough to warrant an arrest. While typical field sobriety tests just require doing certain movements or actions, the other tests, which include breath and blood tests, are more invasive. This has led to Minnesota enacting strict laws about when and how they can be done.

The importance of implied consent

According to the Minnesota law, when a person obtains a driver's license, he or she agrees to submit to a test to determine if they are over the legal driving limit. This is called implied consent. It is required of all drivers in the state. But that "implied consent" still has its limits. An officer cannot require a person to submit to testing unless that person has first been arrested based on "probable cause."

The probable cause requirement

In order for an officer to require a person to submit to any testing, he or she must have good reason to believe that person is driving under the influence. This usually involves seeing the person driving erratically, smelling alcohol on the person or observing certain physical traits that are characteristic of intoxication. Often, the officer will administer field sobriety tests to gather more evidence of probable cause.

Requesting the breath test

Once an officer has gathered enough evidence to establish probable cause and the person has been arrested, the officer can request the person to take a breath alcohol test. Before the test is administered, the person must be informed of his or her rights. This includes the officer explaining that the law requires the driver to take a test and that refusing to submit will result in a criminal charge. In addition, the person is told he or she can consult an attorney before submitting to a test, as long as it can be done without delaying the test administration unreasonably.

Requesting a blood test

Because they are more invasive, blood tests require more than breath tests. The law requires that an officer obtain a search warrant from a judge for a blood test. In addition, the test must be performed by a qualified professional trained to draw blood.

When a person is pulled over for a DUI, it is essential that he or she understands his or her rights. Agreeing to testing and not ensuring the process is conducted by the book could lead to legal problems. If you have been arrested and charged with a DWI, you should contact Sheridan & Dulas P.A. for a free consultation.