A request from a law enforcement officer to submit to a breathalyzer test can be a frightening moment. Keeping calm and making a rational decision could mean the difference between going to jail and going home.
Drivers in Minnesota and across the United States make mistakes every day when interacting with law enforcement, including during DUI stops where the stakes are high. Penalties in Minnesota for the first DUI include license forfeiture, potential jail time and as much as $20,000 in court costs and fines (not to mention attorneys’ fees). Further DUIs can result in even harsher penalties.
With so much at risk, you need to know your rights and obligations during traffic stops, particularly when one has advanced to the stage of an officer requesting that you submit to a breathalyzer test. The decision to refuse or accept is best made when you are fully informed.
The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution does, indeed, prevent the state (i.e., the police) from forcing a suspect to present evidence that incriminates himself or herself. However, driving in Minnesota and the other states is, from a legal perspective, a privilege and not a right. Abiding by the “terms and conditions” of the state that issued your license requires that you submit to a breathalyzer test when requested by police. If you refuse, legal actions against you can follow that require the help of a Minnesota defense attorney.
What can happen when you refuse a breathalyzer
Refusal of a breathalyzer test is not a crime in itself. However, that refusal can result in increased fines and penalties, including confiscation of your license. The mere refusal can be a tool the prosecution uses as evidence of guilt.
If you are facing legal issues related to a breathalyzer or any aspect of a DUI investigation or arrest, you need the help of an experienced criminal attorney in your area to represent your interests and protect your legal rights. Law enforcement personnel on traffic duty know the law as it pertains to DUI. You should too.