Should I Submit To A Breathalyzer When Stopped For A DWI?

A lot of information has swirled around the constitutionality of Breathalyzer tests and whether a search warrant is required to obtain a breath sample of someone who is suspected of drunk driving. In fact, this question is currently under consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court. The following content explores the question of whether to submit to a Breathalyzer a bit more in depth.

A Breathalyzer Vs. A PBT

Many people tend to equate a Breathalyzer test with a preliminary breath test (PBT), also known as a portable breath test. However, there are distinct differences between these two tests. A PBT is issued as part of a traffic stop when a motorist is suspected of DWI/DUI. The purpose of this test is to help strengthen the officer's case for making the initial stop and for making a subsequent arrest. A conviction based solely on the results of a PBT is unlikely, if not impossible, and you face no penalty for refusing to take a PBT or for refusing to engage in highly subjective field sobriety tests.

A Breathalyzer test is administered back at the police station after a suspected drunk driver has been placed under arrest. The results of the Breathalyzer test are admissible in court and often used to convict a person for drunk driving. Of course, it is still possible for an experienced lawyer to mount a successful defense even if a driver fails a breath test, and it is always important to seek legal advice no matter what the outcome.

Penalties For Refusing A Breathalyzer

Under the current law, police are not required to get a search warrant in order to administer a Breathalyzer test. As such, if you refuse to submit to a breath test, and are also unwilling to provide a blood or urine sample, you will face additional criminal charges as well as the automatic revocation of your driver's license under Minnesota's implied consent law.

When Is A Warrant Required?

Currently, the Minnesota Supreme Court has held that a warrant is required in order to collect someone's blood or urine following an arrest for suspicion of drunk driving. They have not extended this requirement to breath tests. The reasoning is that the collection of a breath sample is not as invasive as the other two forms of testing and therefore does not implicate the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. The question of whether breath samples fall under the Fourth Amendment is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Should I Refuse A Breathalyzer In Dakota County?

Every case is unique, and it is not possible to provide a pat, one-size-fits-all answer to this question. With the warrant requirement for a blood or urine sample, you are likely to be in a better position to defend yourself if you request either of these options. However, you may not want to provide a blood or urine sample for any number of reasons, and it is your right to do so. Bear in mind that if you make this decision and also refuse to provide a breath sample, you will face additional criminal charges, even if the test results would have shown that you were under the legal limit.

Given the shifting nature of DWI laws both in Minnesota and across the nation, it is impossible to give definitive advice to someone who has been accused of drunk driving. However, two things that you should always do when placed under arrest are to exercise your right to remain silent and to exercise your right to have an attorney.

Contact Our Hastings Drunk Driving Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with drunk driving, ensure your rights are protected with dedicated legal counsel from Markert Law, PLLC. Contact us online, or call 651-964-6415 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your situation. With a law office in Hastings, we provide skilled legal representation to people in Dakota County and throughout southeastern Minnesota.