During a traffic stop, you may exercise certain rights in response to a Minnesota police officer’s instructions or questions. For instance, you may invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination. If the traffic stop has occurred because a police officer suspects you of DWI, he or she might ask you to take a preliminary alcohol screening test.
Such a test might include a roadside breath test or field sobriety test, such as a walk-and-turn test or horizontal gaze nystagmus test. If you fail these tests, the officer can take you into custody for suspected drunk driving. It’s important to note, however, that you do not have to take a DWI test during a traffic stop.
Field sobriety tests are separate from chemical DWI testing
An officer typically administers a chemical Breathalyzer test or blood test to determine a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level. The test usually takes place after the police have taken someone into custody for suspected DWI. If you refuse to take a chemical test, there are automatic repercussions.
You can lose your driving privileges for up to one year for refusing a chemical test after a DWI arrest. The reason is that, when you obtained your Minnesota driver’s license, you gave “implied consent.” This consent obligates you to submit to chemical DWI testing when asked to do so. Field sobriety tests, on the other hand, are optional without fear of penalty for refusal.
Is it better to take a field sobriety test or to refuse?
If you submit to a field sobriety test during a Minnesota traffic stop, a failing score constitutes probable cause for a DWI arrest. You’re free to refuse to take the test. The police cannot arrest you for refusal. Be aware, however, that if you wind up facing DWI charges because the officer in question determines probable cause by some other means, a prosecutor can tell the court or jury that you refused to submit to DWI testing, which may influence their decisions.
Every case is unique. A strategy that works for one person might make matters worse for another. Ultimately, it is your choice whether to comply with a request to submit to DWI testing or whether to refuse. Either way, it’s beneficial to secure legal support before your case is adjudicated. Facing drunk driving charges in Minnesota does not necessarily mean a conviction will be handed down, especially if you challenge the evidence and win.