If you have any experience with a Minnesota DWI, you’ve almost certainly heard of the Minnesota Implied Consent statute. But what exactly is it? The Minnesota implied consent statute was enacted with the idea of providing law enforcement with an effective tool to compel drivers suspected of DWI to peacefully submit to testing to determine that person’s level of impairment. If you are arrested in Minnesota for suspicion of DWI, the Minnesota implied consent statute requires that you submit to the arresting officer’s request to test your blood alcohol level. If the test reveals that your blood alcohol is over the legal limit of .08, your Minnesota driver’s license will be revoked. The length of the revocation will depend on your test result and the facts of your case. If you have an out-of-state driver’s license, Minnesota will revoke your ability to drive in the state of Minnesota.
AN ARREST FOR SUSPICION OF DWI MUST BE SUPPORTED BY PROBABLE CAUSE BEFORE AN OFFICER CAN REQUIRE TESTING UNDER THE MINNESOTA IMPLIED CONSENT STATUTE.
Probable cause is determined by a number of factors, most commonly including field sobriety testing, the officer’s observations of driving behavior, the officer’s face-t0-face interaction with the driver, smelling alcohol on the driver’s breath, slurred speech, and bloodshot and watery eyes. Perhaps surprising to some, an officer does not need to actually witness driving conduct. An officer can develop probable cause to support a DWI arrest if there is reason to believe the suspected person recently drove, operated, or otherwise physically controlled a motor vehicle. Obviously, an admission of recent driving behavior will support a DWI arrest, as long as there is probable cause to believe the person is also impaired.
While it may seem like you are being punished if the state revokes your driving privileges, the Minnesota Supreme Court has interpreted the Minnesota implied consent statute to be a remedial act and not “penal” in nature. Essentially, the ability to drive within the state of Minnesota (and most every other state) is viewed by the courts as a privilege and not a right. That privilege is conditioned on the driver’s “implied consent” to submit to blood alcohol testing if there is probable cause to support the request. So, if you want to drive in Minnesota, you must submit to blood alcohol testing if you find yourself under arrest for suspicion of DWI.
YOU MAY BE ASKING – WHAT IF I REFUSE TO TAKE THE BLOOD ALCOHOL TEST?
Refusal to submit to testing is also covered under the Minnesota implied consent statute. As long as the officer’s request to test your blood alcohol level is supported by probable cause, you don’t have much of a choice. In fact, you could be charged with a separate crime of refusing to submit, which could be a more severe charge than the DWI charge you may have been facing.
There have been a number of constitutional challenges to the Minnesota implied consent statute, most recently in the highly publicized cases of Missouri v. McNeely and Brooks v. Minnesota. These cases challenged the state’s ability to enact a law that essentially compelled a person to submit to a search of their person without requiring the state to comply with the warrant requirements of the Fourth Amendment. The issues and opinions generated by those cases require a separate discussion of their own; for the purpose of this post, it is important to note that the Minnesota implied consent statute is alive and well and has not yet been overturned by our state supreme court. However, constitutional challenges to the state’s ability to charge someone with a crime for refusing to submit to a warrantless search continue to be fought.
If your Minnesota driving privileges have been revoked under the Minnesota implied consent statute, you do have a right to challenge the constitutionality of the revocation and preserve your driving privileges. However, you must act fast. The law requires certain paperwork to be filed with the court within 30 days or so (depending on the method of revocation) or you lose the right to challenge the revocation.
Our experienced Minnesota DWI lawyers can help get your driving privileges reinstated. If you are facing a license revocation from a DWI arrest, contact our Minneapolis/St. Paul DWI lawyers right away.