When you get your Minnesota driver’s license and take to the roads, you automatically accept that you must, by law, submit to chemical tests (like breath, blood, or urine tests) if a police officer suspects you of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
This rule is known as implied consent. It is often relevant in Minnesota DWI cases, as drivers who refuse to submit to breath testing at the roadside may be guilty of an offense; in fact, the penalties for these violations are frequently more severe than those for DWI charges.
So, exactly what is implied consent in Minnesota?
How Implied Consent Works
Under Minn. Stat. § 169A.51, you automatically consent to chemical testing for drugs and alcohol by a law enforcement officer once you drive a car on public roads in Minnesota. In order for such a test to be legal, the officer testing you must have probable cause to believe you were driving while intoxicated. Additionally, one of the following four circumstances must exist:
- You have been arrested on suspicion of a DWI offense.
- You have been involved in an accident that caused injury, death, or damage to property.
- You have refused to take a preliminary breath test at the roadside following a traffic stop.
- You took a preliminary breath test and it indicated you had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit of 0.08%.
Implied consent law requires that you get the offer of either:
- a breath test, or
- a blood or urine test.
If they offer a blood test, they must also offer a urine test, and vice versa. No such restriction applies when it comes to breath tests. You are entitled to consult with an attorney before taking a test, but only if you can do so within a reasonable timeframe. If you are unconscious when the time comes to take a test, or incapable of expressing yourself for some other reason, the law deems you to have given your consent to chemical testing, and the police can choose what type of test to administer.
Should you refuse to comply with the requirements of the test once a law enforcement officer is legally entitled to administer one, the officer may charge you with both a DWI offense and also revoke your driver’s license related to your refusal to submit to testing.
The rules on implied consent extend to boat users operating their vessels on public bodies of water in Minnesota.
DWI Charges and Implied Consent in Minnesota
Though there is an obvious relationship between DWI charges and implied consent violations, there are separate and distinct laws dealing with each offense.
Refusing to submit to a chemical test when a law enforcement officer is legally entitled to administer one is an offense even if you’re not driving while intoxicated. You can face penalties for an implied consent violation without getting convicted of a DWI offense.
It’s important to note that an implied consent violation, like a DWI offense, is a criminal matter. As well as the suspension or revocation of your driving license, you may also face up to a year in prison and a maximum fine of $3,000 following an implied consent conviction.
How a Minnesota DWI Lawyer Can Help
At Kans Law, we specialize in helping Minnesotans who have gotten into trouble over alleged road traffic violations. When you’re facing criminal charges or license revocation, you’re going to feel scared, confused, and frustrated. That’s why expert legal help is indispensable in this situation.
Contact us today to arrange a free initial consultation about your case.