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DWI Arrests & Breath Testing

Breathalyzer Testing in Minnesota & DWI Defense

Minnesota Breathalyzer Test
This is the Datamaster DMT, the Breath testing machine used in Minnesota for the Evidentiary tests.

"Breathalyzer" is the common term for the machine used by Minnesota police, sheriffs and highway patrol officers to measure the alcohol content of a driver. A breathalyzer machine determines your BAC (blood alcohol content). Minnesota (and virtually every other state) defines DWI as driving with a BAC of .08 or more.

There are actually two types of breathalyzer tests; the first is a Preliminary Breath Test, which is typically administered by law enforcement at the scene of the pull-over. The second is an Evidentiary Test, which is typically performed at the local police station after you have been taken into custody. The preliminary test basically gives the officer cause to take you to the station for the evidentiary test. You will be offered the chance to speak with a lawyer before taking the evidentiary test.

Do the police have the right to give me a breathalyzer test whenever they want to?

Minnesota has an "implied consent" law, which more or less means that by driving a car, it is implied that you are giving consent to take a breath test should law enforcement have probable cause to give you one. While the police do need probable cause to pull you over, and to give you the preliminary breath test, you are required to take the test if they ask you to. If you feel that you are being tested without probable cause, that is a battle that is likely best left to wage in court. While you do have rights, and are able to ask questions to a police officer, accusing them of testing you without probable cause is typically not going to help you at the scene of the pull-over.

Can I refuse to take a breathalyzer test?

Refusing to take a breath test in Minnesota is a crime, and it can actually carry more severe penalties than being convicted of a DWI. If you are a first time DWI offender, over 21 years of age and there are no other aggravating factors, you are typically facing a 90 day license suspension. If you refuse to take the test, you will automatically lose your license for 1 year.

Working with an Experienced DWI Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with a DWI, working with an experienced DWI defense lawyer can greatly increase your chances of the best possible outcome. There are times that a police officer or state trooper either did not have probable cause to give you a breathalyzer test, or that the result of the test was inaccurate. An experienced DWI defense attorney can help identify those situations as well as use them to minimize or eliminate the case against you. Harvey Skees, "Minnesota's DUI Guy" offers a free initial consultation either in his office or over the phone to review the facts around your pullover and arrest and can help you identify and capitalize on any issues that may help your defense.