With extra DWI enforcement, drivers should know their rights

According to figures from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety, roughly 160 drivers across the state were arrested. on May 10, 2013, on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Roughly 80 of the arrests were made in the Twin Cities.

The Office of Traffic Safety notes this was the largest one-day DWI enforcement initiative that has ever taken place in Minnesota. Seventy different agencies and over 150 police cars were involved in the initiative.

The Pioneer Press reports that 13 counties, including Hennepin County and Ramsey County, are going to be included in its DWI enforcement efforts this summer. The 13 counties chosen are the ones with the highest totals of deaths and injuries caused by drunk driving.

With the increased summer DWI patrol, it is important for drivers to know their rights regarding DWI arrests, blood alcohol content tests and consultations with an attorney.

Reasonable suspicion and probable cause requirements

In order for a police officer to ask a person to take a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer test (a preliminary breath test or PBT), the police officer must first have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Examples of behavior that could allow an officer to conduct an investigation include making an illegal turn, drifting in and out of lanes, not using a blinker when changing lanes or passing, and braking frequently.

If the police officer has reasonable suspicion, the officer is allowed stop and detain an individual for a brief time in order to conduct a limited investigation. An officer may request the driver to take a field sobriety test and/or a breathalyzer test (PBT) if he or she suspects that the driver has been driving under the influence of alcohol after a limited investigation has taken place.

After the field sobriety test or the breathalyzer test has been administered, an officer can arrest the driver if the officer has probable cause to do so. In order for probable cause to exist, the field test or breathalyzer test results must indicate probable intoxication.

Minnesota implied consent laws

According to Minnesota’s implied consent law, if an individual is arrested by a police officer who has probable cause to believe that the accused has been driving while intoxicated, the accused automatically consents to taking a test, such as a blood, breath or urine test, to determine blood alcohol content.

If a police officer requests that the accused takes a test that measures BAC, Minnesota law states that refusal to take the test is a crime, and the penalty for refusal is the suspension of the accused’s license for at least one year.

According to Minnesota case law, a police officer has to tell the accused that refusing to take the requested BAC test is a crime and that the accused has a right to speak with an attorney about the refusal.

Someone who has been accused of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence could benefit from consulting with a DWI defense attorney who could help investigate the case and provide aggressive representation throughout the court process.


Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and 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. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

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