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What Is Probable Cause for a DUI Arrest in MN? Criminal Defense, DUI, Traffic Violations

What Is Probable Cause for a DUI Arrest in MN?

1 year ago by Justin M. Schiks
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Before a law enforcement officer can test you for alcohol consumption, they must have probable cause to do so. Probable cause gives them the ability to require a breath test or obtain a warrant for a urine or blood test.


The process starts with either an investigatory stop or the investigation of an accident.


So, before an officer can make a DWI arrest, they must have enough evidence for probable cause. You want a DWI attorney near the Woodbury-St. Paul, MN area to evaluate whether probable cause existed in your situation. 


Getting Stopped


When it comes to traffic stops, Minnesota courts allow officers to stop a driver long enough to run their license, check registration, and perform a warrant check.


Several factors are used to determine whether the activity turns out to be a traffic stop or ends in an arrest.


  1. The length of the stop
  2. Where the driver is stopped
  3. The conditions for an extended detention


For example, if you’re pulled over for failing to use a turn signal, the officer cannot ask you if you have drugs in your car. That unlawfully expands the reason for the traffic stop.


Reasonable Suspicion


Before the police officer can extend the time for the traffic stop, they have to have a reason to believe there are drugs in your car. 


For instance, if they smell marijuana or alcohol when they stop you, they can make an additional inquiry. Otherwise, they’re just stopping you from failing to use your signal.


In this instance, the officer can detain you for a time equal to what it takes for them to confirm their suspicions that drugs are present in the car.


Before the officer can expand the duration of the traffic stop then, they would need a reason to believe that drugs are in the car.


Therefore, the time an officer can detain you or your vehicle increases with each reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. So the duration of a traffic stop depends on the circumstances and facts surrounding the event.


That is why you need to consult with a DUI attorney near Woodbury-St. Paul, MN to understand your rights and how to best defend your case.


Also, it’s important to remember that you do not have to answer any of a police officer’s questions if you’re in the middle of a traffic stop.


You do have the right to remain silent if you’re not merely being given a citation or a ticket.

Reasonable Suspicion vs. Probable Cause


Again, a law enforcement officer cannot arrest you based solely on reasonable suspicion. They must have probable cause with clear-cut evidence that a crime is being committed or has taken place. 


Therefore, an officer in Woodbury, for example, cannot make an arrest based on a feeling or a hunch. They have to have substantial proof to go ahead with an investigation or to obtain a warrant for an arrest.


Gaining the Evidence Needed for Probable Cause


For instance, if you drift over the center line while driving, that is not enough evidence for an officer to use for a DUI arrest.


However, if they stop you and start talking to you, they may have the clues they need to use for probable cause to make an arrest.


This evidence may include:


  1. Smelling alcohol on the driver’s breath
  2. Seeing empty beer cans or bottles inside the car
  3. Noticing a driver’s disheveled appearance
  4. Noting that the driver slurs their words
  5. Experiencing profane language or shouting

The Use of Field Sobriety Tests



Field sobriety tests are tools the police use to obtain more information about a person’s sobriety and the possibility of an elevated BAC. 


However, you don’t have to submit to these tests. While you are required to take a required blood, breath, or urine test, you can refuse a field sobriety test. Any of the three standardized tests is not mandatory for an arrest.

Types of Field Sobriety Tests


These tests include the following:


  1. Horizontal gaze nystagmus test: The officer observes an individual’s eye movement as they look from side to side.


  1. The Walk-and-Turn Test – The officer watches as the individual attempts to walk a straight line, turn around, and rewalk the line.


  1. One-Leg Stand Test – The police officer looks on as the individual attempts to balance on one leg at the side of the road.


However, even though law enforcement agencies use field sobriety testing, these tests are only marginal proof of a person’s level of impairment.


The tests are not made to determine failing or passing scores. Nor do they consider a suspect’s sex, weight, age, or the impact of a medical condition that may affect the suspect. Other factors, such as the weather, can also come into play.

Talk to a DUI Criminal Defense Lawyer Today


That’s why it’s important to discuss your DUI case with a professional DUI lawyer- someone who has the skills and experience needed to support your rights and ensure you have a fair trial and a more favorable outcome.


In Minnesota, contact JS Defense, PA to schedule a consultation today.


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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney Justin M. Schiks who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney.

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