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What Is Considered DWI Under Minnesota State Law?

On Behalf of | Jan 8, 2020 | DWI

There are two forms of DWI in Minnesota. The first is if law enforcement believes you’re impaired by alcohol or a drug to the point that your normal coordination or ability to drive is compromised. The other one is testing at a 0.08 or higher blood alcohol level.

What Would Be Considered A Felony Level Or Aggravated DWI Charge In Minnesota?

We have four degrees (think of degrees as levels) of DWI in Minnesota. Fourth degree, which is the least serious, is a misdemeanor, meaning a maximum of 90 days in jail. There are a few ways to get a more serious DWI based on “aggravating factors.” If you have any aggravating factors, you will be charged with a third degree or second degree DWI. Those are both gross misdemeanors, which means that there is a maximum of one year in jail and a three thousand dollar fine. Those aggravating factors can be any one of these: 1) a prior DWI or alcohol related loss of license within the past 10 years; 2) a test refusal; 3) testing at 0.16 or higher; or 4) having children under age 16 in the vehicle with you at the time of the DWI. You can be charged with a felony DWI if you have three or more prior DWIs within the last 10 years.

What Happens After Someone Is Pulled Over On Suspicion Of DWI In Minnesota?

After the officer pulls the driver over, they’re going to walk up and talk to the driver while the driver is in the car. They’re looking for signs of impairment, like bloodshot, watery eyes, slurred speech, the odor of alcohol, confusion, or the admission of consuming alcohol. If the officer believes that they have signs of impairment, they’ll ask them to get out of the car and perform field sobriety tests. If they still believe the driver is impaired, they’ll ask him to take a portable breath test. That breath test is not admissible in evidence but it gives them an indication of whether they can arrest you or not. There are several potential challenges that a good lawyer can make on your behalf to argue that your rights were violated. If we succeed on any of those challenges, it could lead to your case being thrown out (dismissed).

If you test at a 0.08 or higher, they will arrest you for DWI and read you a warning, which tells you that Minnesota law requires you to take a test and that refusal is a crime. They’ll let you call a lawyer, if you want to, and then you have to decide whether to submit to the test at the police station or the hospital. Usually, it’s a breath test at the police station. They’ll have you blow into a machine two times and it gives you the lowest score of those two tests. If you test at a 0.08 or more, they’ll charge you with a DWI. Even if you’re under 0.08 by a small amount, they may still try to charge you with driving while impaired. If they ask you to take a urine or blood test and you don’t consent, they’ll try to get a search warrant to require you to submit to that testing.

What Happens When Someone is Suspected Of Being Impaired With Drug Use?

The police will ask you if you’ve consumed any prescription drugs or other drugs. Regardless of what you say, they’ll typically put you through a separate set of field sobriety tests. Some of those are the same as they would do if they suspected alcohol and others are slightly different. They may call in a drug recognition evaluator. These people have special training on some of the different tests to give you. If they believe they have enough cause at that point, they’ll apply for a search warrant for a urine or blood test. Once they get the search warrant, they’ll try to make you take a blood or urine test. If you refuse, they will charge you with a refusal.

Am I Required To Take The Roadside Test?

You’re not required to take roadside field sobriety tests and you’re not required to take a roadside breath test. If the officer believes that you’re impaired, even if you don’t take the roadside breath or field sobriety tests, they still have a right to arrest you. Usually, you’re just making the evidence worse for yourself if you take the roadside field sobriety tests or the roadside breath tests because those roadside tests are very biased and very unreliable. You’re not required to. If you think you’re going to pass those tests very well, then go ahead and take them. If you’re not so sure, you’re better off not taking those tests. There are plenty of people who are 100 percent sober and can’t even pass the field sobriety tests. Those are flawed from their very inception and a good DWI lawyer knows how to expose their flaws to the jury.

What Is Implied Consent For A DWI Under Minnesota State Law?

When an individual obtains their driver’s license, they implicitly agree to comply with taking a breath, blood, or urine test to determine whether there is a presence of drugs and/or alcohol in their system. This statute is known as implied consent for a DWI under Minnesota State law. If a police officer suspects a driver of being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol after an investigatory stop, they can require a breath, blood, or urine test. However, it is important to note that the procedure for requiring a breath test differs from that of a blood or urine test.

In Minnesota, a police officer must obtain a warrant before requiring a person to provide a blood or urine sample. In contrast, when it comes to a breath test, an officer does not need to obtain a warrant to require a person to give a breath sample. In either scenario, an officer must have probable cause or reasonable grounds to require a breath, blood, or urine test. If the officer suspects that a person is driving while intoxicated, the officer can stop the driver and investigate. For instance, if a driver is weaving in and out of his or her lane, a police officer can stop that person under suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Other circumstances can also prompt a DWI, such as when an officer stops a driver for speeding. If the officer smells alcohol or notices slurred speech, the driver could get a DWI after further investigation. An investigation to determine whether the driver was driving while intoxicated could include the administration of a field sobriety test and/or a preliminary breath test.

What Happens If I Refuse A Breath Or Blood Test?

In Minnesota, when a driver gets pulled over and is suspected of driving while intoxicated, the police officer will usually request that the driver perform a field sobriety test or a preliminary breath test. Drivers in Minnesota have a right to refuse field sobriety testing and preliminary breath tests. However, under the implied consent statute, a driver faces serious consequences if he or she refuses a secondary breath test or a blood or urine test with a warrant. Blood and urine tests are known as chemical tests.

After a refusal to perform a field sobriety test or a preliminary breath test, the police officer can require a breath test or seek a warrant to require the driver to submit to a blood or urine test. Prior to requiring either test, the police officer must read the implied consent advisory statement to the driver. The advisory statement informs the driver that the test is mandatory and that refusing the test is a crime that can lead to serious penalties. The advisory statement also informs the driver that he or she has the right to consult with an attorney before the test is administered.

If a driver still refuses to take a breath or chemical test, the driver risks a longer driver’s license revocation period and criminal penalties. Due to the penalties involved with refusing a breath or chemical test, it is highly advised to contact a DWI attorney who can assess the situation and advise whether a refusal is a viable option.

Will My Driver’s License Be Automatically Suspended If I Get Arrested For A DWI Under Minnesota State Law?

If a driver gets arrested for a DWI under Minnesota State law, his or her license could be revoked by the arresting officer. Usually, when someone gets arrested under the suspicion of driving while intoxicated, the arresting officer will take the driver’s license and issue a temporary license and a Notice of Revocation. The temporary license is only valid for seven days. After the seven days expires, the revocation of the driver’s license becomes effective. In other words, the driver’s license becomes suspended. The amount of time a license is suspended or revoked will depend on the driver’s prior DWI history.

If a person submitted a breath test, and the result was at or above a blood alcohol content of .08%, the Notice of Revocation and temporary license would be issued at the time. However, if a blood or urine sample were taken instead of a breath sample, a driver’s license would remain valid until the results returned. The results would indicate whether the person passed or failed the test. If the driver failed the chemical test, the Notice of Revocation would be sent to the individual’s last known address.

Once the revocation is received, drivers have 30 days from the date of the notice to petition a review on the revocation. A hearing can then be set within 60 days after the petition to challenge the driver’s license suspension or revocation.

What Are Possible DWI Defenses?

The best way to defend against a DWI is to enlist the expertise of a DWI attorney. By thoroughly analyzing a case, a DWI attorney can implement an effective and strong defense. Some of the most common defenses an attorney can prepare include:

  • Improper Stop By A Police Officer: If a police officer pulls someone over without having probable cause or reasonable suspicion and charges the person with a DWI, the stop and charge could be improper. When it comes to a DWI, any evidence could be inadmissible.
  • Improper Field Sobriety Test Administration: Police officers must follow certain protocols when administering a field sobriety test. If an officer fails to meet those protocols, any evidence gathered may be suppressed, which could result in dismissed or dropped charges.
  • Medical Conditions: Some medical conditions, such as gastrointestinal conditions, could distort the results of a roadside breath test. For instance, the presence of alcohol could be created by certain medical conditions unrelated to ingesting alcohol, such as ketosis. As a result, a sober person could provide a false reading on a breath test.
  • Improper Investigation or Miranda Rights Violation: When a person is arrested, the arresting officer must read or recite their rights – this includes their Miranda rights. If the officer does not advise the individual of their rights, any evidence gathered could be excluded.

For more information on DWI Charges In The State Of Minnesota, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling 612-474-5420 today.

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