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Defining DUI Or DWI In Minnesota

In this article, you will learn:

  • How DUI is defined in Minnesota
  • The criminal and civil penalties possible if convicted
  • How you may be obligated to give a breath or blood sample during a DUI investigation

Driving Under the Influence in Minnesota is defined as someone who has a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher at the time of the incident when they’re interdicted by the police or within two hours thereafter. There are different levels of DWI as well. Considering first-time offenses only, a misdemeanor would be a 0.08 to 0.15999. Once you get to 0.16, then you’re looking at the charge with a gross misdemeanor, which has more severe penalties involved. A misdemeanor has up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Gross misdemeanor has up to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine. And of course, separate from all of that is the civil process for that person’s license, which is an entirely different set of cases. But those are the basics of DWI law in Minnesota for first-time offenders.

We also have something called Enhance ability, which means if you either plead guilty or are convicted of a DWI, and if you have another offense within ten years, it’s automatically going to be charged in the higher level. So even if you have a 0.08 blood alcohol content, if you’ve got a prior conviction, you’re going to be charged with a gross misdemeanor right away. The intention here is to discourage recidivism, which is relatively high amongst DWI offenders. As to the extent it works, I can’t say. Minnesota still has a high DWI incident rate compared to neighboring states or the rest of the country, and it’s historically in that way in that these aren’t recent developments; it’s been like that for a long time.

The Obligation To Give A Breath Or Blood Sample During A DUI Arrest In Minnesota

You can refuse a chemical test, but if you don’t cooperate, you can be charged with a different crime, which is the refusal crime. There is something in Minnesota called Implied Consent when operating a motor vehicle on the road. And what that means is that if you operate a vehicle on the road in Minnesota, you automatically consent to its laws. And one of those laws is a requirement that if you are asked to submit to any kind of examination, whether it’s a blood test, whether it’s a breath test etc., that you have an obligation to follow through with that regardless of what you think your opinion might be of whether or not the context of the stop was fair or any other objections that you might have. So if you don’t end up cooperating with that, you will be charged with an additional crime on top of the still likely charges of DWI.

Possible Penalties For DUI Conviction In Minnesota

The penalties for DWI in Minnesota are those of any other misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor as far as the basics are concerned. Ninety days for a misdemeanor and up to a $1,000 fine. Typically for a first offense, however, you’re not going to serve any jail time except for when you’re in custody, so you’ll get credit for that period in time. Fines are typically low. As long as there’s no property damage or as long as there are no personal injuries, it tends to be a much more lightly sanctioned criminal offense. If there’s a history there or injuries to property or people, you’re looking at possibly a more severe sentencing regime, even if you’re a first-time offender. As I said before, gross misdemeanors are up to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine. Suppose you’re at a gross misdemeanor level. In that case, if it’s a first offense, you can still work with the prosecution on these issues to minimize the collateral issues like custody and time, etc. Still, it’s a more serious crime, and it brings with it more serious outcomes.

The worst-case scenario is if you are being charged again and it’s within the enhance-able period because now you’re establishing a pattern for the state, giving them more cause to think statistically that you’ll be a repeat offender. So it’s essential to have a skilled counsel in place at that point because you’re looking at more serious sanctions and to try to mitigate those sanctions to the extent that you can’t actually get the information from the stop suppressed because it’s the constitutional issue. So mitigating those sanctions becomes only objective at that point.

As far as the driver’s license component is concerned, that’s considered a civil process in Minnesota through the Department of Motor Vehicles. So once you’re charged with a crime of driving under the influence, whether it’s drugs or alcohol, typically a license is clipped, they’ll give you a temporary license for up to 70 days, and then your license is suspended for a period of up to six months. Now, there are remedies available for that. For instance, as the individual files a civil complaint within 30 days of that action being taken against their license, they can try to keep their license afloat and possibly have the criminal case get suppressed or thrown out. But if you don’t make that civil filing in Minnesota, then you lose the chance to be able to do that if the criminal case turns out in your favor. During the interim, you can also qualify for an interlock program. Typically, they’re cellphone-based, so you get a little device that clips into your cellphone. You get tested, and if you pass, you can continue driving, and if you don’t, then you probably get another sanction coming your way because they’re on condition release at that point.

Another program is where you blow into your vehicle to a device connected to your vehicle, which will only stop if you don’t register any alcohol content. So, those are two ways to keep driving. The third way will be to get a work permit, which is generally available except for rather extreme circumstances. And these would allow the individual, in some limited fashion, to continue operating the motor vehicle while the case is pending.

For more information on DUI Law in Minnesota, a free initial consultation is your best step. Get the information and legal answers you seek by calling (612) 305-8529 today.

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