According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, traffic fatalities on Minnesota roadways increased from 364 in 2019 to 394 in 2020.
Of the 394 deaths, 79 involved a drunk driver, compared to 89 drunk driving fatalities in 2019.
Despite this decrease, Minnesota still enforces strict penalties against individuals convicted of driving under the influence.
In many cases, breathalyzer test results provide the basis law enforcement needs to charge you with driving while intoxicated.
In rare situations, false-positive breathalyzer results can lead to an innocent person facing DWI charges.
Overview of Minnesota Drunk Driving Laws
Section 169A.20 of the Minnesota Statutes outlaws motorists from driving, operating, or physically controlling any motor vehicle while:
- Under the influence of a controlled substance,
- Under the influence of alcohol,
- Having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more,
- Under the influence of an intoxicating substance that the person knows or has reason to know can cause impairment,
- Under the influence of any combination of two or more intoxicating substances, or
- Having a BAC of 0.04 or more if the vehicle is a commercial vehicle.
The penalties for DWI depend on your previous alcohol-related convictions, your BAC level, and the existence of aggravating factors in your case.
You could face jail time, probation, and the suspension of your driver’s license if you are convicted.
Breathalyzer Tests in Minnesota
Minnesota implements an implied consent law, which means that any driver operating a vehicle on Minnesota’s roads consents to a chemical test of their blood, breath, or urine to determine the presence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicating substances.
If you refuse to take the test, you may face an additional criminal charge.
Law enforcement will test your collected blood, urine, or breath sample to determine whether you were operating your vehicle while intoxicated.
Like any other piece of machinery, testing equipment requires regular maintenance and is not fail-proof.
In some cases, a false positive breathalyzer sample could occur. But what can cause a false positive on a breathalyzer test?
Some common scenarios are described below.
Lack of Proper Maintenance
Breathalyzer machines need regular maintenance to ensure they are providing accurate BAC measurements.
Typically, this involves calibrating the machine at regular intervals and testing the accuracy of the results obtained.
Additionally, authorities must keep the breathalyzer machine in a room with adequate ventilation. The failure to maintain a breathalyzer machine can result in inaccurate test results.
A criminal defense attorney can argue to have the inaccurate results excluded from evidence.
Some medical conditions can lead to a false positive breathalyzer reading.
For example, individuals suffering from hypoglycemia can experience higher levels of acetone in their breath. Acetone in your breath can cause an elevated BAC reading on a breathalyzer.
Other medical conditions that cause elevated acetone levels can lead to inaccurate breathalyzer results.
Before performing a breathalyzer, law enforcement should observe the subject for 15-20 minutes to ensure the subject does not introduce abdominal alcohol or put additional substances in their mouth.
Abdominal alcohol includes burping or throwing up. Otherwise, the subject could register a higher BAC.
The observation period allows any excess alcohol in the mouth to dissolve. When an officer does not wait to conduct the breathalyzer, the results might show an inaccurate reading.
If this occurred in your case, contact a qualified criminal defense lawyer right away.
If we can show that the breathalyzer results were inaccurate, the court might agree to exclude the results from evidence.
Contact a Minnesota DUI Attorney Today
At Arechigo & Stokka, we understand that DUI charges can inflict serious stress on anyone.
A conviction can involve spending time in jail, losing your driver’s license, and increasing your car insurance rates.
John Arechigo is an attorney who dedicates his entire practice to representing individuals charged with criminal violations and has extensive experience with drunk driving cases.
We can help you understand the consequences you face and explain the possible defenses that apply to your case.
Contact our office today to get started.
Attorney John Arechigo has a passion for criminal defense in St. Paul, MN. John received his J.D., from Hamline University School of Law and also carries a Bachelor of Arts from, The University of Minnesota. John was named Attorney of the Year for 2019 by Minnesota Lawyer. Additionally, John was also named as a 2019 Rising Star and was selected to Minnesota Super Lawyers in 2021. He devotes nearly 100% of his practice to defending individuals charged with a crime.