One of the most basic rights the U.S. Constitution protects is the right to avoid self-incrimination. In other words, you do not have to admit to any wrongdoing, and police may not coerce you into confessing your involvement in a crime. However, if you are hired for a job, chances are you will have to agree to random drug testing as a condition for your employment. The same is true for obtaining a driver’s license in Minnesota.
When you get your license, you give your implied consent to participate in specific types of sobriety testing to measure your blood alcohol concentration if police arrest you under suspicion of drunk driving. This does not include field sobriety tests or preliminary breath tests at the site of your traffic stop, but it does include breath, blood or urine tests at the police station after you are under arrest. By law, you must submit to these tests. However, you may still refuse them if you are ready for the consequences.
The elements of your case
If, after your arrest, you refuse to submit to a BAC test, you can expect to face an additional and separate charge of test refusal. In some cases, this offense can be more serious than a DWI charge, and its penalties may even be more severe than a conviction for drunk driving, especially if this is your first offense and you are sure your BAC is .08 or lower. In either case, police should clearly explain to you the potential consequences if you refuse the test.
On the other hand, you may be concerned about the validity of the test itself or the qualifications of the officer who is administering the test. Perhaps you feel the arresting officer did not have a good reason to stop you in the first place. While refusing to submit to a blood, breath or urine test may seem reasonable, you will want to consult with an attorney and learn about how it may affect your future before you take this step.
Preparing for the fight
As you can see, each situation is unique, and the circumstances surrounding your DWI arrest may affect the outcome of your case significantly. As soon as authorities charge you, the clock begins to tick, and you will have a limited time to take legal and administrative steps to protect your driving privileges and possibly avoid some of the most serious consequences of a DWI conviction.