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Minnesota drivers can refuse roadside DWI tests

On Behalf of | Feb 8, 2023 | DWI |

Certain laws regarding drunk driving are issued at the state level, such as whether police checkpoints are legal. In Minnesota, police checkpoints are not. This means that police must have reasonable cause to stop a motorist and conduct a DWI investigation.  

There are four basic preliminary alcohol screening tests that police use in this state. These tests most often take place during a traffic stop before anyone has been taken into custody. They typically include a portable breath test and three different field sobriety tests, including the one-leg stance, the walk-and-turn test and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.  

A Minnesota driver is not obligated to take roadside DWI tests 

Many people do not realize that they are free to refuse when a police officer asks them to take a roadside breath test or field sobriety test. In this state, there are no legal or administrative penalties for refusal. In fact, Minnesota law requires a police officer to be able to demonstrate reasonable cause to issue a preliminary breath test during a traffic stop. If a driver refuses to take a field sobriety test, it is possible that there may be no lawful reason to request a breath test. This may not always be the case, however, such as if an officer claims to have witnessed the vehicle veering out of its lane before making the traffic stop.  

If a DWI arrest takes place 

A motorist cannot be arrested for refusing to take a field sobriety test or preliminary breath test during a traffic stop. Refusing to take such tests does not guarantee that a DWI arrest will not occur. Minnesota drivers will want to remember that prosecutors can mention a refusal to take preliminary alcohol screening tests during a trial to try to incriminate the accused. Whether a test was taken or refused, it is helpful to seek legal support before facing drunk driving charges in court.