Appeals court upholds law in breath test refusal case

Published 10:28 am Tuesday, July 28, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS  — A law that makes it a crime for someone to refuse a breath test when arrested for drunken driving was affirmed Monday by the Minnesota Court of Appeals — but one judge signaled there could be an issue with the law as it relates to blood or urine tests.

Monday’s ruling comes in the case of David Bennett, who was arrested after he rear-ended another vehicle in New Brighton in 2013. A state trooper said Bennett showed signs of intoxication and a preliminary breath test showed Bennett had a blood-alcohol level at nearly twice the legal limit. He was arrested, but refused to take a breath test at the jail after he was given the implied-consent advisory.

He was ultimately convicted of test refusal, and a drunken driving charge was dismissed.

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Under Minnesota law, anyone who drives a vehicle consents to a chemical test of blood, breath or urine to determine if he or she has been drinking. A law enforcement officer may impose a test if the officer has probable cause to believe the person was driving drunk and has been arrested for that crime.

The law states if a person refuses to submit to a chemical test, it “must not be given.” The driver then faces a license revocation and a possible criminal charge of refusing to submit to chemical testing.