Is It Ever Better to Refuse a Breathalyzer in Minnesota?


If you were to ask most people who have been charged with a DWI whether or not they thought about denying the breathalyzer; a vast majority would say that they thought about refusing the test. It is somewhat instinctual to try to protect yourself from essentially proving how drunk you are and getting arrested.

Most people submit to the test because the police asked them to do it and they complied. Not everyone knows that they have the right to refuse the breathalyzer.

But is the outcome ever made better by refusal of a breathalyzer test in Minnesota?

When You KNOW That You Are Way Over the Limit

In cases where no person or property was damaged; and a person is positive that they are over the limit and has not had a DUI in recent years than they are better off taking the breathalyzer. Due to the law of “implied consent”, a person makes a legal contract upon getting a driver’s license that entitles law enforcement with the ability (among others) to request a breathalyzer test of a driver. Ergo, refusing a test generally means automatically losing ones license for at least a year and in Minnesota; committing an additional crime. A lower classed DUI or especially first time offense DUI may be much less trouble  than refusal of a breathalyzer.

When You Are WAY Beyond the Legal Limit or Have Previous DUI’s

These may be the circumstances where the consequences may be lesser if you refuse to give a breathalyzer. In most states; including Minnesota, a person has harsher penalties, the higher the blood alcohol content. An aggravated DUI or a multiple offense DUI may carry prison time while refusal of a breathalyzer may not.

The issue with this concept; is that an officer will almost always charge a refusal ticket with a DUI. Then it is up to the state to make a case out of the police officer’s testimony, witness accounts, photographs at the scene, etc. A good attorney may be able to get a DUI dropped with a refusal of the breathalyzer if the evidence can be called into question and extenuating circumstances are presented. Still, if a person has multiple DUI’s, especially within a ten year period; it would seem that they would be better off by not submitting to a breathalyzer, as they would essentially have nothing to lose with the extra ticket but more to lose if the BAC was very high.

The exclusion to the above statement would be if the person has refused the test in the past. Multiple refusals carry harsher penalties increasingly. This situation would pretty much be the, “Rock and a hard place” situation.

When You Just Don’t Think You Should Have to Blow

Surprising as it may seem to most law abiding citizens; many people will use what they think are their “constitutional rights” to annoy police officers and try to shirk responsibility. This generation of do-it yourself-google-youtube, amature,attorneys loves to challenge officers of the law, cell phone video in hand, ready to annoy the officer into carrying out an injustice that will be posted on Facebook. They use what they misinterpreted off the internet (when the source was already misinformed) to annoy an officer into letting them get away with something.

This type of person may not submit to a breathalyzer because they think that they can argue that an officer should need a warrant to obtain such a thing; especially blood, urine and hair. As previously detailed, the implied consent law applies here; not just administratively (DMV and license) but criminally. It is a crime to refuse to take a breathalyzer or submit to a blood, urine or hair sample drug kit if asked by a police officer.

In fact, in a 2016, Minnesota State Supreme Court Case, the Court upheld the Decision that it is legal for a police officer to breathalyze a citizen without a search warrant. Thus, giving further legal standing that a citizen is required to submit to these tests when an officer asks or they have broken the law.


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