Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No Means No? DWI Refusals (Explained)

A charge of DWI - Test Refusal is in many ways a lot like an arrest for Drunk Driving.  However, the crime isn't driving while intoxicated; rather, the offender is charged with refusing to submit to a test of their blood, breath or urine - at a time in which law enforcement has probable cause to believe they were driving drunk.

The difference may sound minor - to anyone but a lawyer - but the outcome quite serious.  Under the laws of the State of Minnesota, an officer can require someone to submit to a DWI test if the he has reason believe that the individual was driving while under the influence of alcohol.  This is Minnesota’s Implied Consent law.  (Believe it or not, by driving on a public roadway in the state you automatically consent to submitting to such a test if law enforcement proper cause.)  Refusing to take this test is a crime, which is often more severe than a regular DWI if you had in fact just agreed to the chemical test.

Why is a Refusal Worse than a Drunk Driving Arrest?

Initially, Test Refusal was a more lenient charge than a Drunk Driving - under certain circumstances.  However, those that came before us burned that bridge by refusing tests (to receive lower consequences than if they had taken the test) at a rate that caused the powers that be changed the law to make it equal to the most severe DWI you can receive under the circumstances.  Therefore,  today is very little incentive to refuse the test.

If it's a Crime, Why Do Individuals Still Refuse?

The most common excuse I've seen for not submitting a sample of one's blood, breath or urine for testing is because they're confused about the request in the first place.  If you've read this blog, you know that I often advise individuals to not talk with the police and refuse their requests for things like searches, providing statements and the like in order to protect their rights.  However, refusing a DWI test has the exact opposite effect - it imposes severe criminal liability. 

Prior to seeing the required sample, this is laid out quite clearly by the officer seeking submission to the test - when he recites the Implied Consent Warning.  However, that warning fails to explain that you also quite likely opening yourself up to harsher consequences than if you'd have go through with the test in the first place.

How Do You Fight This Charge?

Law enforcement can require submission to a test only if they have probable cause to believe that you've been drinking and driving.  So, the best way to avoid a charge is to prevent creating probable cause - don't drink and drive.  That being said, I am sure if you're reading this that ship has passed.  If you've been cited for Refusal - you need the assistance of an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney

Not only will they fight to preserve your rights and your future.  They also will be able to discern whether someone actually refused.  That's right - often these cases come into being not because someone says "no" to the test - but rather because there are times that an officer assumes such a response.  If that's the situation in your case call The Rolloff Law Office today at (612) 234-1165.  I believe I can root out the holes in these assumptions and in turn get you the best outcome possible.

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