The Minneapolis Star Tribune has reported that Minnesota has the third-worst drunk driving rate in the nation. In 2006, nearly 42,000 Minnesota motorists were arrested for Driving While Impaired (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI).
The DWI/DUI charge is very serious and has seen increased law enforcement emphasis around the country. Governments have run extensive media campaigns attempting to scare citizens about the dangers of DWIs and DUIs. It has also helped governments justify increased expenditures on prosecution of this crime. As governments struggle to find new revenue sources, they have turned to DWIs as a cash cow. They raise revenue, increase public safety and keep people tied to the legal system.
There are many penalties that may result from DWIs. Some are directly implemented by the government; including fines, vehicle restrictions and jail time. Others are a result of criminal conviction, such as, employment and insurance problems.
The Minnesota State Statute Section 169a.20 refers to “driving while impaired” as a crime involving driving, operating or being in physical control of a motor vehicle, while “under the influence of alcohol” or “within two hours” of the aforementioned. This code has been updated over time to allow for easier DWI convictions. Minnesota’s legal limit of Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is .08%. It has continually been lowered over the years.
There are at least four degrees of DWI – fourth degree impairment is a misdemeanor, third degree impairment is a gross misdemeanor and includes an aggravating factor, second degree impairment is a gross misdemeanor with two or more aggravating factors and the first degree impairment is a felony, if first of three convictions was within ten years.
Aggravating factors include the level of intoxication, child involvement and refusal to take a “field sobriety test” or “blood, breath or urine test”. Minnesota is an “implied consent” state – meaning that all drivers must perform a “field sobriety test”, if requested by police officers.
Police must follow certain procedures. Police officers can arrest you – even if your BAC is under the legal limit -on the suspicion of “reckless or dangerous” driving. The commercial motor vehicle BAC is .04%. DWI law also applies to airplanes, ATVs, boats and snowmobiles.
A DWI arrest leads to a parallel legal process of Criminal court proceedings and Minnesota Department of Transportation administrative proceedings. Once a “revocation of driving privileges” has occurred, the State of Minnesota forces the violator to pass through a labyrinth of bureaucratic red tape to return to regular driving.
The Interstate Driver’s License Compact is a system of 44 states sharing DWI information.
Minnesota is a “plea-bargain” state, which attempts to settle most cases “out-of-court”. Repeat offenders receive stiffer penalties. Treatment programs are also an option.
A professional attorney will collect evidence and interview witnesses. A good lawyer can determine whether breath analyzer equipment was functioning properly.
They will know what the prosecutor will emphasize: reckless driving patterns, physical signs of impairment, performance on “field sobriety tests” and alcohol test results.
Find the best criminal defense lawyer. Turn to a professional who knows the law, evidence rules, police procedures and can gauge the probability of success for your case.
The information you obtain from this article is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.