What Are Your Rights To An Independent Chemical Test in Minnesota?
Persons arrested with driving while impaired (DWI) in Minnesota have the right to submit to a chemical test administered by the government. They also have the right to ask for an independent chemical test.
Minnesota’s courts place limitations on how an independent test can be taken and where the independent test may be taken. Police cannot interfere with the administration of the independent blood test, but they do not need to help either. Seeking an independent opinion about your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level may give you evidence to contest the government’s claims that your BAC was over the legal limit.
The right to have an independent chemical test has certain limitations. The arrested individual may request an independent chemical test or tests administered by the person they choose in addition to the test required by the arresting officer. The independent sample must be given after the sample required by police was taken. The test may be by blood or by urine.
The independent test must be administered where the person is in custody. There can be no cost to the state of Minnesota for this independent test. Additionally, the failure or inability to take the independent test has no bearing on where the governmentally compelled test is admitted in evidence against the person. However, the police cannot thwart the person’s attempt to obtain an independent sample. If they do interfere with that request, evidence taken from the government’s sample may not be admitted at trial.
The person charged with DWI can ask a court to throw out the evidence obtained from the police sample if they hampered the person’s ability to obtain an independent sample. Minnesota’s courts draw a distinction between an officer who actively prevents a person from obtaining an independent sample and a police officer who simply fails to assist the person. Minnesota’s courts have said that the police must provide access to a telephone. Courts put a very fine point on what access to a telephone means. Under Minnesota law, the police officer cannot refuse the arrested individual, while in-custody, the opportunity to make a call to arrange a second independent test, if requested.
The police have no obligations to the person besides allowing access to a telephone. The police do not need to help the individual make arrangements for the independent test, provide transportation to the test or give the person any supplies to help with test administration. The police are under no obligation to find a driver for the person to get to the independent test.
Furthermore, the police have no duty to inform an individual about the possible consequences of taking an independent test. Minnesota courts place an affirmative duty on attorneys to give legal advice. Courts have refused to burden the police with that requirement. Attorneys are in a better position to explain the benefits and possible pitfalls to taking an independent test.
Do not rely on the police to help you figure out if you should take an independent chemical test. The police may treat you fairly, but they are under no obligation to help you. An experienced, accomplished, and successful DWI attorney can properly advise you about all of your legal rights and options.
Kuehn v. Commissioner of Public Safety, Minn: Court of Appeals 2016