Most people have heard of Minnesota’s implied consent law, something that says if you are arrested and an officer has probable cause to suspect that you were operating a vehicle while intoxicated, you have already provided your consent to submit to some kind of chemical test to determine your level of impairment. In Minnesota, police use three methods of chemical testing to determine intoxication: blood, breath or urine. What are the differences between these tests and what choice do you have when asked to submit? Keep reading to find out more.
Breath testing makes use of some kind of breathalyzer machine and is among the most common methods for testing a suspected drunk driver’s level of impairment. The machines work by analyzing the alcohol content in exhaled vapor. These machines are notoriously sensitive and have been found to have problems involving accuracy and require frequent calibration to continue functioning properly.
These tests work by analyzing the percentage of alcohol, specifically, ethylene glycol, present in a person’s urine. Though the tests are scientifically based, there are common problems with how they are administered and human error can lead to problems when strict procedures are not followed.
Blood tests measure the amount of alcohol in your body by coming up with a percentage of how much blood by volume is present in a sample of a suspect’s blood. Blood tests are seen by many as among the most reliable of chemical testing options. Though accurate, these tests are not foolproof, especially when analysts use older results to extrapolate backwards, something that can result in mathematical errors.
Can you choose?
Though Minnesota employs all three options when chemical testing a suspect’s blood, the reality is that your choices are somewhat more constrained. In Minnesota, the police have the ability to choose which test is initially offered to a drunk driving suspect. If the police first ask you to submit to a breath test, you are required to do so unless you are physically unable. Any failure to provide the breath sample will be deemed a refusal and will result in its own punishment.
If you are given the choice between a blood or urine test, you do actually have a choice. If an officer requests that you submit a blood sample, you cannot be deemed to have refused unless you are also given the choice to submit to a urine sample, and vice versa.