Chemical Testing Under Minnesota’s DWI Laws

Minnesota’s implied consent law assumes that a person who drives, operates, or is in control of any type of motor vehicle anywhere in the state has consented to a chemical test of breath, blood, or urine for the purpose of determining the presence of alcohol or controlled or hazardous substances in the person’s body. The testing is administered at the direction of a law enforcement officer when there is probable cause that the person has committed a DWI violation and the person:

  • has been arrested for a DWI violation;
  • has been involved in a motor vehicle crash;
  • has refused to take the DWI screening test; or
  • has taken the screening test and it shows AC of .08 or more.

To build probable cause, the officer generally, though not always, proceeds as follows:

  • observes the impaired driving behavior and forms a reasonable suspicion of an impaired driving violation
  • stops and questions the driver
  • administers a standardized field sobriety test (SFST)
  • administers a preliminary breath test (PBT)

If, based on these screening tests, the officer has probable cause to believe that a DWI crime has occurred, he or she may arrest the person and demand a more rigorous evidentiary test of the person’s breath, blood, or urine. Before administering the evidentiary test, the officer must read the implied consent advisory statement to the person, explaining that testing is mandatory, test refusal is a crime, and the person has the right to consult an attorney before taking the test. If the evidentiary test is requested without the advisory being given, then the person may be criminally charged and prosecuted following test failure or refusal, but the various administrative sanctions cannot be applied.

If the person is unconscious, consent is deemed not to have been withdrawn, and the chemical test may be administered.

The officer chooses whether the test will be of the person’s breath, blood, or urine. A person who refuses a blood or urine test must be offered another type of test (breath, blood, or urine).

Blood and urine tests are analyzed by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), with results available within about ten days. The BCA may certify chemical test results directly to the Department of Public Safety (DPS).

CREDIT: The content of this post has been copied or adopted from An Overview of Minnesota’s DWI Laws, originally published by the Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department and written by legislative analysts Jim Cleary and Rebecca Pirius.

This is also part of a series of posts on Minnesota’s DWI Laws.

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