A Steele County man is facing two counts of second-degree driving while impaired charges after allegedly crashing into a traffic sign while attempting to merge onto Interstate 35 in Owatonna early Saturday morning. A Steele County deputy claims that the 23-year-old Ellendale, Minnesota man was speeding on Highway 14 before arriving at the interchange between the highway and I-35. The deputy reportedly clocked the Ellendale man’s car at 11 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.
The deputy apparently did not see any accident occur. Law enforcement claims that when the deputy arrived at the southbound ramp to I-35, he found a car in the snow about 50 yards from the pavement. Law enforcement claims that a nearby traffic sign was damaged, as was the car. The deputy jumped to the conclusion that the car has struck the sign before veering into the nearby field, where the car became stuck in the snow.
Law enforcement claims that the driver told the deputy that “someone smashed me up” when the deputy approached the stranded vehicle, according to The Leader in Blooming Prairie and Ellendale, Minnesota. Law enforcement asserts that the driver admitted drinking three or four beers, which combined with the deputies observations led to a suspicion of a potential DWI offense.
Law enforcement opened a DWI investigation, including field sobriety tests and a preliminary breath test. Steele County authorities claim that the PBT showed a reading of slightly more than three times the legal limit to drive in Minnesota.
The Steele County Sheriff’s Office claims that the man was given the opportunity to call a lawyer, but was unable to reach a lawyer on the phone. Steele County officials accuse the man of refusing to submit to an evidentiary breath test. The man was booked into the detention center on suspicion of gross misdemeanor DWI.
Generally, Minnesota’s implied consent and DWI laws make it a crime to refuse to submit to a breath, blood or urine test during a DWI investigation. But, a DWI arrest must comply with statutory on constitutional requirements. A driver has a limited right to consult with an attorney before submitting to an implied consent chemical test.
Like many legal issue, what constitutes a reasonable investigation and what is constitutionally unsound may involve complex legal analysis of the specific set of facts in an individual case.
Source: The Leader, “Ellendale man charged with DWI after taking out highway sign,” Al Strain, Feb. 25, 2013