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What are your rights when you're stopped for a DUI?

You’re driving home from the bar after having a few drinks when you see the flashing lights come on behind you. The natural reaction to noticing that a police officer is pulling you over is to panic. After having a few drinks, this feeling is likely amplified.

The best thing you can do for yourself in this situation is remain calm. When a police officer pulls you over on suspicion of drinking and driving, he or she will search for probable cause. This search may include a variety of tests to prove whether you have been driving impaired.

It is at this point that it is important you are prepared. Understanding your rights can help you make the best out of a bad situation.

Field sobriety tests

One of the most common ways that an officer will find probably cause is through a field sobriety test. Examples of this may include standing on one leg or asking you to follow the officer’s finger or pencil with your eyes. Performing one of these tests is a good way to prove you have not been driving impaired. However, it is not a legal requirement to take part in a field sobriety test.

If you believe there is a possibility that you have been driving above the legal limit, you may want to decline a field sobriety test. This will give the police officer the right to arrest you, but you will have eliminated the opportunity for him or her to gather evidence of your impairment through the test.

If a breathalyzer test ultimately proves that you were not driving impaired, denying a field sobriety test will not affect you.

Breathalyzer tests

Breathalyzer tests are a little bit more complicated. By choosing to run a motorized vehicle you have agreed to Minnesota’s implied consent law. This means that it is illegal for you to refuse to allow a police officer to administer a breathalyzer test. However, you do have the right to contact and discuss your situation with an attorney within a reasonable amount of time before submitting to a chemical test.

That said, you still have the choice to refuse the test. This could result in a longer license revocation period and harsher sanctions than you may already be facing. There are situations when it may be in your best interest to decline a breathalyzer test, but it’s important to understand that the purpose of the implied consent law is to make you take it.

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