Because of viral YouTube videos and extensive discussion threads on the Internet, the debate over whether or not to submit to a breath test during a traffic stop has continued to spark national interest. It seems like everyone, from Minnesotans to residents in other states, has an opinion on the issue. Yet, because laws differ from state to state, it's still impossible to answer the lingering question: do you refuse or accept an officer's request to take a breath test?
Driving under the influence is an all-encompassing term that doesn't just refer to drunk driving. Drugged driving is also a major safety concern. Drugged driving can happen in a variety of ways, with one of the most common forms being driving under the influence of marijuana. However, prescription medications can also contribute to a drugged driving charge, as could any other illicit drug or substance.
The breath test is one of the more notable incidents during the course of a driving under the influence arrest, mainly because there are myths out there about being able to "refuse" this test. We spoke about the topic of breath tests last summer, and the fact that most states -- including Minnesota -- have an "implied consent" law, which simply says that if you have a driver's license, you inherently agree to take a breath test in the case of a lawful DUI arrest.
A couple of weeks ago we wrote about a slight change in the implied consent rule thanks to a new interpretation of the rule by the Minnesota Supreme Court. In a follow-up to that post, this post will look at another decision the Minnesota Supreme Court made in relation to implied consent -- but this time, it has to do with breath tests and an individual who refuses to take one.
Many people have probably heard about Michael Phelps' most recent drunk driving incident. The U.S. Olympic swimmer -- known for holding the most total medals, and most gold medals, ever in Olympics history -- was arrested recently after allegedly driving his vehicle at a speed of 84 miles per hour in a 45 MPH zone. A Breathalyzer test revealed that he was over the limit, though the police did not release specific on Phelps' blood alcohol content.
In Minnesota, by obtaining a driver's license, motorists agree to comply with police orders to take a breath test if they are pulled over when they obtain a driver's license. Known as implied consent, this state law provides that a person can face criminal charges for simply refusing to take a roadside breath test for alcohol intoxication, even if they are actually sober.