When you’re pulled over during a traffic stop and an officer asks you to take a breathalyzer, you might freeze up and wonder about your ability to refuse. What happens if you do opt out?

There is no quick answer for the question, because there are numerous factors involved. Your decision would have legal consequences based on your DWI history, the type of driver’s license you hold and many other factors. In essence, you’re taking a risk either way.

Know the law and your rights

It’s good to be aware that if a police officer pulls you over and asks you to submit to a Breathalyzer test, you may already be under arrest due to suspicion of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Under Minnesota law, driving implies consent to a breath analysis if an officer suspects you are driving under the influence. However, you can’t be forced to take the test, so you’ll have to weigh the potential consequences carefully if you choose to refuse the test.

Consequences may vary

Your consequences will depend on the decision you make, and it can be difficult to weigh them against one another in the moment. For example, if you choose to take a test and you test positive, the state’s prosecutor could potentially use that evidence to bring a stronger case against you. The specific laws in Minnesota may make it more difficult to defend against positive Breathalyzer results, with stronger consequences compared to refusing to submit.

Both submitting to and refusing to take the test will probably result in a license suspension. However, the durations and specific terms of these suspensions differ depending on your choice. There are also different suspensions based on the final outcome of your case. One of the most important differences is that conviction suspensions are criminal penalties, whereas automatic suspensions for refusals are civil penalties.

Understanding the consequences for you personally requires a deep understanding of the law in this area. You should seek specific legal advice and representation–this article is only intended to provide general information.