How Is A DUI Or DWI Defined In Minnesota?
People are very caught up with labels when you explain the difference between a DUI versus a DWI. It’s just a colloquial way to say the same thing, you were caught driving, or you’re accused of driving under the influence of something. That could be either a controlled substance or alcohol. They are treated effectively the same in Minnesota, whether you have alcohol or a controlled substance in your system.
What Is The Threshold In Minnesota?
For regular drivers, it’s 0.08%. If you have a commercial driver’s license, it’s 0.04%.
What Are The Top Misconceptions About Being Arrested For A DUI?
People are very confused about the type of testing they are required to do. In Minnesota, it’s very common and frequent if an officer asks you to do field sobriety tests, in particular, on the side of the road, and ask you to blow into a portable breath machine or a PBT. At that point, people assume that they have taken the test and that’s what is going to cause them to be charged, and that’s not entirely accurate. Once the police officer has a reading on the PBT, if it is over the legal limit, then they have probable cause to arrest you for the DWI and take you to the police station. At that point, they are going to ask for a second test, which is most often a breath test, and that’s where people get confused, they assume they’ve already done this, so they say no.
That’s a problem, because refusing to take the breath test at the police station is an additional crime, and it’s a harsher crime than just taking the breath test for most first time offenders.
What Happens When Someone Is Pulled Over On Suspicion Of DUI Charges?
For a regular stop, the police officer pulls someone over for a traffic offense, whether it is weaving outside of your lane or speeding, those are the most common ones. You can also be pulled over for having expired plates, or not even having a light over your license plate, which is required in Minnesota. Once an officer pulls you over, they are going to ask you for your driver’s license, your registration, and your proof of insurance. This is their opportunity to gauge somewhat how you are doing, depending on how wide you open the window, that’s going to give them access to see you, and to smell any potential drugs or alcohol, and gauge your level of responsiveness.
Once they think they have a basis to believe that you’ve been drinking they may even ask you “Have you been drinking tonight?” It is common for people to answer that question with, “Yes, I just had a beer or just had a couple,” The reality is you don’t have to answer those questions. All you are required to do is identify yourself and provide your documentation, that’s it. You don’t have to answer questions about where you were going, where you are coming from, what you are doing if you’ve been drinking. None of that is required of you. Nevertheless, frequently, people will answer those questions, and that gives the officer basis to say, “I want you to step out of the car and do some field sobriety tests.” Assuming you’re at that point, and you agree to do the field sobriety tests, there are three primary tests in Minnesota used.
The first one would be walking a straight line down and back nine steps with a turn on either end with your heels and your toes touching each step. The officer is looking for whether you are staying or falling off your line or if you are using your arms for balance. The second standard test would be to stand on one leg and count to a number that the officer gives you, and the third one would be where the officer shines the light in your eyes and is looking for pupil reaction and whether your eyes are twitching. Those would be the three primary tests. After that, then they will ask for a breath test, which is also issued on the side of the road, the PBT. If you failed any one of those tests, then that’s when they put you under arrest for the DWI, and take you to the police station.
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