Pursuant to the Minnesota implied consent law, a person who chooses to drive, operate, or be in physical control of a motor vehicle is assumed to have already consented to a breath, urine, or blood test to determine the presence of alcohol or hazardous or controlled substance in the body. This chemical test is administered only after a law police officer has already established there is probable cause to believe a DWI violation has occurred and the person has been subsequently placed under arrest for DWI. So, when is probable cause established?
Probable cause exists only after a police officer reasonably suspects an impaired driving violation by observing impaired driving behavior. This can be established by the officer’s observations of any erratic driving conduct prior to the traffic stop. Another factor is any observation the officer may make about the driver after the stop such as slurred speech, bloodshot watery eyes and overall appearance. The officer will also judge the driver’s performance on Field Sobriety Tests. Generally, after these tests a thorough officer will ask the driver to perform a preliminary breath test or PBT test to confirm his or her belief of impairment.
If an officer believes that probable has been established, the officer may place the driver under arrest and then, only after reading the Minnesota Implied Consent Advisory, request an evidentiary breath, urine, or blood test. The officer is required to read the implied consent advisory statement explaining that the test is mandatory, refusal to take the test is a crime, and the driver has the right to consult or speak with an attorney before agreeing to take the test. The individual is given a “reasonable period” of time under the “totality of circumstances” standard to contact an attorney.
As with the blood test, a person who is offered a urine test by the police officer must also be offered an alternative test. The rational is that some individuals are adverse to needles and they shouldn’t be charged with the crime of refusal simply because of this fact. The same rational applies to those who are offered a urine test, but for some reason are not able to physically urinate at the time. For an unconscious person, consent is deemed not to have been withdrawn and the test may be administered. It is the officer that decides whether to administer a breath, urine or blood test. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) analyzes blood and urine samples and forwards the results to Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS).