Minnesotans who are investigated for driving while intoxicated should be aware of the potential charges and penalties they will face. A fundamental aspect of DWI is often the testing procedure to determine the amount of alcohol in the driver’s system. A breath test is generally the first step. The blood-alcohol concentration will be discerned using this method. However, some people might not understand the law for when they are stopped by law enforcement and are asked to take a test. This is called implied consent.
Simply being in control of a motor vehicle means a person is already subject to implied consent. No warrant is necessary for a law enforcement officer to ask for a breath test. Probable cause is needed to request the test. In general, this starts with a traffic stop or after an accident. For a traffic stop, there must be a reason for it, but there does not need to be evidence that a DWI was taking place to make the stop.
Obvious reasons for a traffic stop would be if the vehicle is weaving back and forth or driving too slowly. A basic violation like a broken taillight is sufficient to make a stop. If the officer sees other issues at play, then the investigation can expand to consider DWI. A driver who is slurring his or her words, has bloodshot eyes or smells of alcohol can then be asked to answer questions, take part in a field sobriety test and then a breath test. Drivers frequently make the mistake of thinking they have the right to refuse to take the test. This is a mistake. Implied consent is in place simply because the driver is operating a vehicle.
A breath test refusal can result in the driver’s license being revoked for one year in a first offense. A second offense will result in a two-year suspension. When stopped by law enforcement and facing any allegations related to DWI, it is imperative to consider the legal consequences and take appropriate steps to craft a defense. A law firm experienced in DWI cases may be able to help.