Operating a vehicle on a Minnesota road means that you are agreeing to drive without being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. What this form of “implied consent” means to a driver is that refusal to take a field sobriety test is not really an option.
However, Minnesota law does not require drivers to perform any field sobriety test. Refusing to submit yourself to such a test will result in an arrest in the same way that failing one of the tests would result in an arrest.
After the arrest, the driver who refuses a test will have to submit to a breath, blood or urine test to test for intoxication. If an officer has a reasonable suspicion that a driver is intoxicated based on the observation of that driver, they have the authority to stop the driver and perform a field sobriety test to determine if their suspicions are correct.
These are the various types of tests an officer may use to determine whether a driver is intoxicated:
There are two types of balancing tests an officer may ask a driver to perform. The first is the walk and turn test and the second is the one leg stand test. For the walk and turn test an officer will ask the driver to walk heel-to-toe and perform certain demonstrations of motor skills, for example turning on command.
The test must be performed on a hard, dry surface so that elements like rain are not causing the driver to fail the test. Standing on one leg is a test where an officer will request that a driver hold one leg six inches from the ground in front of them and count to thirty.
If a driver is unable to do this, the officer may reasonably believe that the subject’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is above the legal limit. The officer must allow the driver to stand on the leg of their choice.
Preliminary Breath Test
A preliminary breath test is conducted on the scene of the traffic stop. It is a small hand-held box that a driver must blow into. There is no requirement in Minnesota that any driver submit to this test at any time. This is not to be confused with a breathalyzer, which must be complied with. Failure to submit to the preliminary test will result in an arrest. This is because refusal to take a preliminary test, combined with the officer’s observations, is often enough to constitute the probable cause necessary for the arrest.
After the arrest the driver will have to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test to verify whether or not the driver was over the legal limit of .08 BAC.
The Nystagmus Test
Nystagmus is a term used to describe the jerking of an eyeball when it follows an object. If an officer testifies that they observed the eyeball jerk before the object reaches a 45-degree angle, the officer then has probable cause to arrest the driver for driving under the influence. Officers are required to instruct the driver to keep their head straight and look directly ahead. The officer is further required to keep the object 12 to 15 inches from the driver.
A conviction for driving under the influence can affect your future. There are many ways an officer could fail to correctly test a driver for drunk driving and therefore fail to establish probable cause for the arrest.
A bad arrest can lead to a dismissal of the charges. Contact the attorneys at Rosengren Kohlmeyer Law Offices today to learn more about your rights in a DWI case and for help establishing a strong defense.