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Field Sobriety & Breathalyzer Testing

Should You Submit to DUI Field Sobriety & Breathalyzer® Tests?

Minneapolis DUI defense attorney protects your rights throughout the legal process

What happens when a law enforcement official pulls you over? Typically the officer has done so because he or she believes there is probable cause that you are driving under the influence (DUI) or operating while intoxicated (OWI). A series of procedures follows, including:

  • Field sobriety tests
  • Breath, blood and urine tests
  • Arrest
  • Booking
  • Setting bail
  • Court appearance
  • Judgment

At Jeff T. Ohara, Attorney at Law, PC, we work to understand exactly what happened. Minneapolis DUI attorney Jeffrey O'Hara has successfully defended individuals charged with DUI offenses using a set of proven strategies. Time and again we have seen that improper procedures have been used, that opinions can be invalid and that measurements can be faulty.

Understanding the different types of field sobriety tests

In Minnesota, a police officer may request that you submit to a field sobriety test, specifically designed to challenge your mental and physical capabilities to the level of performance required to drive a vehicle. These tests could take the following forms:

  • Walk-and-turn test — Measures the ability to listen and follow directions to take nine steps along a straight line, then turn on one foot and return to the starting position
  • One-leg stand test — Measures the ability to listen and follow directions to stand with one foot about six inches off the ground, counting aloud in descending order from 1,000
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus test — Measures an involuntary reaction of the eyeball while tracking an object, such as a pen, using peripheral vision
  • Solving simple spelling or arithmetic problems

These tests are not mandatory and test results can be subjective on the part of the police officer.

Understanding the breath test

Minnesota has an Implied Consent Law. Under this law, a licensed Minnesota driver is considered to have given consent to a chemical test to measure blood alcohol content (BAC). If you refuse the test, six points are added to your driving record and your driver's license is suspended for a year. These penalties are separate and distinct from any punishments for DUI.

One of these tests is conducted roadside, and for this test you breathe into a Breathalyzer machine, which gauges the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. The results may confirm or dispute probable cause of driving under the influence. Often the results of this test may not be admissible in court.

In Minnesota, a BAC level of more than .08 percent labels you as intoxicated. A BAC level between .04 and up to .08 percent labels you as impaired to drive or operate a vehicle. If you are under the age of 21, the levels are lower. If your test results exceed the limits, you may be arrested and charged with DUI.

However, if arrested, charged and detained, you will have to take a second test, the BAC DataMaster breath alcohol test, at the police station or jail. Police officials receive specific training on how to use this machine. They must be certified to use the machine. But training does not necessarily mean these police officers use it correctly. And, according to state law, the machine can only be used after a police officer has personally observed you for 15 minutes to ensure you have not done anything that could influence the test, like vomit.

For a first-time offense, DUI penalties can be harsh, including suspension of your driver's license. Punishment escalates if this is a repeat offense.

Don't let a test get the better of you. Let us challenge the results.

For more than 20 years, Jeff T. Ohara, Attorney at Law, PC has been helping those charged with DUI retain their licenses and their liberty. Call us today to schedule your free initial consultation at (612) 605-6020. Our phone line is open 24/7 for emergencies. You can also contact us online.