Frequently Asked Questions: Minnesota DWIs
At Ryan Pacyga Criminal Defense, we provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone facing DWI charges in Minnesota. Get personalized answers to your questions and specific legal guidance to your situation by calling our Minneapolis firm art 612-474-5420 or by emailing us to schedule an appointment.
How long will a DWI charge remain on my driving record in Minnesota?
In most cases, convictions for DWI will stay on your record forever. They are what’s called enhanceable, which means they can be used against you to make another one more serious within a 10-year window of time. They can stay on your record even longer, but they can’t be used against you to make your next charge more serious after 10 years. There are limited rights to expunge a DWI but it’s difficult and uncommon.
Can I consult an attorney prior to making a decision on the breath test?
You are allowed to consult an attorney before taking a breath test. The officers have to give you reasonable time, which is not defined under the law, but you have to be pretty prompt. If you can’t get ahold of an attorney, you have to keep moving through the phone book and continue with your attempts. Once you get in touch with a lawyer, we can counsel you on whether to take the test or not. If you cannot get ahold of a lawyer within a reasonable time, the officer can terminate your time and then you have to make the decision on your own.
What is the administrative hearing when it comes to a DWI charge In Minnesota?
At Ryan Pacyga Criminal Defense, we call the administrative hearing an implied consent challenge. Technically, you have a right to do it administratively or judicially, but we recommend the judicial challenge because you have a better chance of winning. It is your challenge to your loss of your driving rights and to having a DWI on your driving record. You get 60 days from the date of the DWI to challenge this implied consent. We’re challenging the DMV’s right to revoke your license and put a DWI on your driving record, which is separate from your criminal record.
Is there anything I can do if I miss the hearing date of the administrative hearing?
If you miss the deadline to file an implied consent challenge, you are out of luck. It is important to hire a lawyer as soon as you can so that you’re not missing any of these deadlines.
Does the outcome of the license hearing impact my criminal DWI case at all?
The outcome of your implied consent hearing could impact whether or not you’re able to get a better plea offer. It would not be admissible against you in your criminal case if you decided to go to trial. If we challenged the implied consent case and we won that hearing, oftentimes, we can take that result to the criminal prosecutor. We may be able to convince them to dismiss the criminal case as well.
What is the general protocol that police follow if they suspect a drunk driving accident?
Police will be looking for signs of impairment on the driver. That includes the odor of alcohol, bloodshot, watery eyes, alcohol containers, slurred speech and inability to understand things. They’re also going to determine if anyone else was injured, besides the driver. If anyone else was injured, they’ll be looking to charge you with a more serious crime, like criminal vehicular operation or criminal vehicular homicide. If you’re not in the back of an ambulance, they’ll ask you to submit to a roadside breath test and roadside field sobriety tests.
For more information on the duration of DWI charges on your driving record, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling 612-474-5420 today.
What evidence do police look for at the scene of a drunk driving accident?
Police are looking for alcohol containers as well as signs of the type of driving conduct that they believe supports an argument that there was impaired driving and that your motor skills were compromised by alcohol to the extent that you weren’t able to control your vehicle. When a driver is suspected of DWI, the individual is generally arrested after being asked to perform field sobriety tests and a breath test.
If you are in the back of an ambulance because you’ve suffered some injuries, the police will determine that you’re not able to do the field sobriety tests but they will still try to get a breath test from you. If this isn’t possible, law enforcement will typically try to get a search warrant for a blood or urine test while you are being transported to the hospital. If you receive medical attention, they’ll get that search warrant. They’ll come back to the hospital and they’ll have hospital staff draw a blood sample from you or collect a urine sample.
Are DWI cases best settled with a plea deal or by taking the case to trial?
Every case is unique. We’ve had plenty of success taking DWI cases to trial. Sometimes, we get them thrown out even ahead of trial with a suppression hearing. There are a variety of ways to challenge a DWI that can lead to a case being thrown out or the charges being lowered. Other times, there’s a lot of evidence against the client and the case isn’t thrown out. We determine that it’s probably not a good idea to go to trial and seek the best plea agreement we can get for the client. Ultimately, it depends on the nature of the evidence, whether there were any constitutional violations against you, and whether or not you want to go to trial or seek a plea agreement. We evaluate the case and determine whether we think it can be thrown out or whether we think there’s a good chance of winning at trial. We’ll then advise you and see what you would like to do. Ultimately, we let you make that decision. We will certainly show you the advantages and disadvantages of each possibility and give you reasonable predictions for each scenario. Our goal is to get you the best outcome available under the unique circumstances of your case.
What factors are considered in making the decision to litigate a DWI case or not?
Some people don’t want to go to trial, no matter what. Other times, the client really feels like the police reports were not accurate or honest. Ultimately, it is always up to the client. What we advise is going to depend on the strength of the evidence. Sometimes, we can get the breath, blood or urine test thrown out of evidence, which can help in a trial. Other times, the test result itself is questionable because the breath testing machine is far from perfect. There are plenty of problems with it that can lead to inaccurate test results.
We may convince a jury or have enough reasonable doubt as to the accuracy of the test result in your case. Sometimes, the strength of the evidence is overwhelming and what we’re looking for is a good plea agreement for the client. Other times, we think that there’s enough reasonable doubt to get a not-guilty verdict at trial.
Will I face harsher penalties than the plea offer if I am convicted later at trial?
There are times where you can’t do any worse at trial than you would under a bad plea offer. We typically tell a prosecutor that unless they’re going to make an offer better than what we would face going to trial, we may as well go to trial. There are other times where you face much harsher penalties if you take the risk of going to trial. That’s something we always talk through with our clients and let them know if we think that they could do better going to trial than what the plea offer is.
Schedule A DWI Defense Consultation
For more information on evidence of drunk driving in Minnesota, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling 612-474-5420 today.