What to Do if Arrested for Minnesota DWI
If you have been drinking and driving there are a number of rights and obligations you have in connection with a Minnesota DWI, traffic offense, or other encounter with law enforcement. Familiarize yourself with these good practices from a Minnesota DWI lawyer so you are prepared if you are ever pulled over for drunk driving.
Do…insist upon your right to speak to a DWI attorney before:
- Answering any questions
- Making any statements
- Signing any documents
- Consenting to any search
- Submitting to any field sobriety tests, or BAC tests
- Providing any physical evidence
The Minnesota Implied Consent Law gives you the limited right to consult with a drunk driving lawyer before submitting to tests. In order to exercise this right you have to ask to call a DWI attorney.
Do…keep your Minnesota driver’s license and proof of current valid insurance in your vehicle and readily available. The DWI officer will ask for both documents. Having them out and ready for the officer as he approaches will diminish their observation of slow motor movements as you search for your documents.
Do…obey the officer’s reasonable commands. The officer’s primary concern will be officer safety, so he will want to secure the area, “frisk” you for weapons and contraband, and restrain you with handcuffs. Be cooperative and courteous. Do not make any statements or admissions. You don’t need to add obstruction of justice to your DWI charge.
Do…tell the police officer very calmly if you are armed with a weapon. Use the following words:
“Officer, I have a valid permit to carry a concealed weapon in the State of Minnesota. My handgun is located _____. I will keep my hands where you can see them while you retrieve my handgun.”
Remember the officer is armed and by now possibly afraid. Let him direct your actions so he feels safe. If you keep your weapon in the glove box, tell the officer before reaching for your registration.
Do…give the officer the basic information necessary to identify you, issue tickets, and fill out accident reports, without discussing any facts concerning the alleged DWI offense. Rather than saying “I don’t know” or “I don’t recall” which may be used to impeach your testimony later, it is safer to say “I won’t make any statements without my criminal defense attorney present.”
Do…understand that many law enforcement vehicles are equipped with video recording devices. Everything you say and do may be captured on camera. Limit your statements to biographical information:
- Your name
- Date of birth
- Driver’s license
- Insurance information
Do…cooperate with the “booking” process: being photographed and fingerprinted.
Do…print out this page and review it. Know your rights when it comes to a Minnesota DWI stop so you can exercise them later.
Watch our video on what to do if arrested for DWI:
What Not to Do if Arrested for Minnesota DWI
If you are pulled over for a DWI in Minnesota there are several things you should NOT do under any circumstances. Follow these tips from a Minnesota drunk driving lawyer to strengthen the defense of your DWI case.
Do NOT…speak to anyone, at any time, under any circumstances, concerning the facts of your DWI case without a drunk driving defense attorney present. You are not obligated to assist the police in their criminal investigation of you.
Do NOT…take any so-called field sobriety tests. The Minnesota Implied Consent Law only applies to an approved chemical test for intoxication (breath, urine, or blood). The law requires that a lawfully arrested Minnesota DWI offender must submit to one of the approved forms of tests within two hours of driving. It is a crime to refuse to submit to the mandated tests, but there are no penalties for refusing any “tests” at the roadside. Some common field sobriety tests include these “standardized” tests:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: In this test, the officer holds an object (usually a pen) about a foot away from the subject’s nose. The officer then moves the object from side to side, looking for sudden, shifty eye movements to determine intoxication.
- One Leg Stand: The driver is asked to stand on one leg and count while holding balance. The officer is looking for balance and the ability to follow given instructions.
- Walk and turn: The suspect is required to walk a certain amount of heel-to-toe steps in a straight line, perform a specific turn, and walk back. Again, the officer is looking mostly for balance and the ability to follow commands.
Don’t agree to take any field sobriety tests. They are not reliable and few police know how to administer these tests. Simply tell the officer: “I am not going to perform any field sobriety tests.”
Do NOT…take the “Alco-Sensor” or PBT (Portable Breath Test). This is a portable breath testing device carried by most Minnesota law enforcement officers. The PBT’s results are only admissible to show probable cause to arrest you for DWI. While it is possible that a low result may prompt the officer to let you go, it is far more likely that the result will be used against you in the arrest decision.
Remember, the only tests covered by the Implied Consent Law are approved breath, urine, or blood tests. The breath testing machines are normally located at police departments or jails. If in doubt, ask the officer: “Is this a breath test required by Minnesota’s Implied Consent Law?” If the answer is no, decline to take it.
Do NOT…do any of the following without first consulting with a Minnesota drunk driving lawyer:
- Agree to appear in a line-up or show-up
- Give a handwriting, hair, fingernail, body fluid, or other sample
- Submit to a polygraph (“lie detector”) or any other test
- Say any phrases (“Hand over the money,” etc.)
Do NOT…waste your one phone call telling your boss you won’t be in tomorrow. Firmly insist on your right to call a Minnesota DWI defense attorney.
Watch our video on what NOT to do if pulled over for DUI in Minnesota: