Because of viral YouTube videos and extensive discussion threads on the Internet, the debate over whether or not to submit to a breath test during a traffic stop has continued to spark national interest. It seems like everyone, from Minnesotans to residents in other states, has an opinion on the issue. Yet, because laws differ from state to state, it's still impossible to answer the lingering question: do you refuse or accept an officer's request to take a breath test?
Driving under the influence is an all-encompassing term that doesn't just refer to drunk driving. Drugged driving is also a major safety concern. Drugged driving can happen in a variety of ways, with one of the most common forms being driving under the influence of marijuana. However, prescription medications can also contribute to a drugged driving charge, as could any other illicit drug or substance.
The breath test is one of the more notable incidents during the course of a driving under the influence arrest, mainly because there are myths out there about being able to "refuse" this test. We spoke about the topic of breath tests last summer, and the fact that most states -- including Minnesota -- have an "implied consent" law, which simply says that if you have a driver's license, you inherently agree to take a breath test in the case of a lawful DUI arrest.
A couple of weeks ago we wrote about a slight change in the implied consent rule thanks to a new interpretation of the rule by the Minnesota Supreme Court. In a follow-up to that post, this post will look at another decision the Minnesota Supreme Court made in relation to implied consent -- but this time, it has to do with breath tests and an individual who refuses to take one.
Many people have probably heard about Michael Phelps' most recent drunk driving incident. The U.S. Olympic swimmer -- known for holding the most total medals, and most gold medals, ever in Olympics history -- was arrested recently after allegedly driving his vehicle at a speed of 84 miles per hour in a 45 MPH zone. A Breathalyzer test revealed that he was over the limit, though the police did not release specific on Phelps' blood alcohol content.
When someone is arrested for driving under the influence, the police will administer breath and blood tests to the individual to ensure they get an appropriate reading of their blood alcohol content. Refusing to take a breath test can lead to serious consequences. In Minnesota, implied consent means you have to take a breath test at some point -- though you do have the right to refuse a preliminary breath test.
Some people may think that if you are pulled over by the police under the suspicion of driving while intoxicated, you have the right to refuse a breath test. This changes from state to state, but in Minnesota, you actually can't refuse a breath test. It's called "implied consent," which means that if you are lawfully arrested by a police officer for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other substances, you are legally obligated to perform a breath, blood or urine test.
Police in Northern Minnesota claim that a man pretended that he cannot speak English during an investigation into a possible driving while impaired offense. The arresting officer claims that the 34-year-old North Dakota resident said “No habla,” when the officer asked the driver his name. The Moorhead police officer, however, apparently speaks Spanish and switched over to that language to identify the driver. Police say that the driver later admitted that he can speak English.
Hennepin County officials accuse an Eden Prairie man of fleeing police after law enforcement followed the man in his car to the emergency room at Fairview Hospital in Edina. Law enforcement claims that officers spotted a car traveling at erratic speeds on Highway 212 at around 5:30 in the morning on April 3. Police also claim that the car was crossing the lane markers on the highway. Officers apparently decided to conduct a traffic stop.
Though cynicism about the government might be common among the public these days, if it looks like a police officer is pulling someone over, that person is likely to stop. It turns out that some apparent traffic stops aren't actually traffic stops at all. They are so-called "voluntary DUI surveys" that are meant to provide information about national drugged and drunk driving trends.