What Is Reasonable Suspicion for DWI in Minnesota?

Reasonable suspicion that a driver is intoxicated may be established when an officer witnesses behavior that leads him or her to believe that a motorist was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. According to Minnesota laws, police officers must have reasonable suspicion that a driver has broken the law to pull a driver over and search the driver’s vehicle or personal property.

Are Minnesota Sobriety Checkpoints Legal?

Sobriety checkpoints are illegal in Minnesota. They were ruled unconstitutional by the Minnesota State Supreme Court in 1994. Minnesota drivers can be still be stopped for suspicion of DWI, but only with reasonable cause. When a driver is stopped, he/she may be asked to submit to a field sobriety breathalyzer test or provide a blood sample. Under Minnesota’s implied consent law, refusal to submit to chemical testing can result in the revocation of a person’s driver’s license.

When a driver is stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, the blocked roadway requires every car on the road to stop. A DWI attorney often sees multiple drivers who are detained without any probable cause of wrongdoing. They are simply on the blocked roadway where the checkpoint is set up. If police delay drivers for an inordinate amount of time or search vehicles without reasonable suspicion of impairment, it’s likely the court would rule that the stop was not legal. The legality of searches and seizures at sobriety checkpoints depend on individual circumstances.

Supporters of sobriety checkpoints and states that enforce them argue that they discourage drunk driving offenses. Studies show that sobriety checkpoints reduce alcohol-related crashes by about 10 percent. Opponents of sobriety checkpoints cite Fourth Amendment rights that protect people from unconstitutional searches and seizures.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allows searches and seizures only if they are considered “reasonable.” When police officers pull a driver over for suspicion of drunk driving, there must be a valid reason before a search and seizure can occur. Common reasons drivers are pulled over include:

  • Driving in the wrong lane
  • Making an illegal turn
  • Swerving or weaving between lanes
  • Sudden or frequent braking
  • Tailgating another vehicle
  • Driving at night without headlights

If a driver is charged with DWI, the legality of the initial traffic stop may come into question. The legality of the stop can mean the difference between steep fines and jail time and having the charges reduced or dropped completely.

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Minnesota’s new marijuana law legalizes marijuana for recreational purposes for adults 21 years or older. The new law makes it unlawful for employers to take action against their employees for off-duty cannabis use. It also prohibits them from refusing to hire an applicant who tests positive for cannabis or requiring applicants to take pre-employment cannabis testing.
Is weed legal in Minnesota? Currently, weed is legal for medical and recreational use in the state. A new Minnesota law legalized weed for recreational use on August 1, 2023. Persons aged 21-years or older may possess or carry a maximum of two ounces of marijuana flower in public.
People arrested or accused of possessing cocaine might ask, “how much coke is a felony?” Possessing controlled substances like cocaine is a felony in Minneapolis, MN. If found with 0 to 3 grams of coke, the crime will be treated as a fifth-degree felony, attracting penalties like $10,000 fines and up to 5 years in jail.