In 1911, when Minnesotans began operating vehicles for the first time, the Minnesota Legislature enacted its first DWI statute, which criminalized driving while intoxicated. DWI was initially a misdemeanor, and blood alcohol concentration percentages (BAC) of 0.15 or higher were illegal. Over the years, the law evolved as the number of cars on the road increased, drunk driving spiked, and alcohol and drug consumption rates changed. In 1961, Minnesota began implementing civil sanctions for driving under the influence. The Not a Drop law, which was designed to harshly punish minors with even a minutiae of alcohol in their system, was passed in 1993. Later, in 2001, felony and gross misdemeanor DWI statutes were enacted. In 2004, the legal limit was reduced to 0.08, and ignition interlock devices were first installed starting in 2010.
What are the penalties for a DWI conviction?
The penalties vary depending on numerous factors, such as the number of previous DWI convictions, the BAC level, and the age of the driver. Each conviction has associated criminal and administrative penalties. For example, for a first-time offender with a BAC under 0.16, the DWI is a misdemeanor that faces up to 90 days in county jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. In addition, administrative sanctions for those with a BAC under 0.16 include: (1) 90 days of ignition interlock device usage, or (2) 15 days of no driving, following by 75 days of limited driving. A DWI charge becomes a gross misdemeanor when: (1) there is a child in the car, (2) the BAC is over 0.15, (3) the breathalyzer or urine/blood test is refused and/or, (4) the driver has a prior DWI conviction or license revocation for DUI within 10 years of the new offense. A DWI becomes a felony if the driver has three or more prior DWI convictions.
Does the Minnesota DWI law only apply to cars?
No. Driving under the influence applies to any motor vehicle. A motor vehicle can include anything driven on the public roadway that is “self-propelled”. This includes boats and off-road recreational vehicles. Furthermore, truck drivers of commercial vehicles can be prosecuted for DWI for driving with a BAC of 0.04 or higher. In addition, a St. Cloud woman was arrested for DWI recently after she backed into a truck in a store parking lot while operating her ATV under the influence.
Can an officer force me to breathe into the breathalyzer machine or give a blood or urine sample?
In order to confirm the presence of drugs or alcohol in your system, a Minnesota police officer may request a breath, urine, or blood sample. However, an officer is not allowed to force a sample out of you if the incident does not involve probable cause for the charge of criminal vehicular operation. With that said, Minnesota does criminalize refusal. If you refuse to give a sample, you can still be charged with DWI- Refusal even though the officer does not have definitive evidence of your intoxication. This is because Minnesota has an implied consent law. By virtue of obtaining a license and operating a vehicle on Minnesota roads, you have impliedly consented to giving samples in the event of a DWI arrest. However, a new court ruling by the Minnesota Court of Appeals held that a police officer must obtain a search warrant for a blood sample before charging you with the crime of refusal to test.
What should I look for in a lawyer?
There are three key characteristics of a good Minneapolis DWI defense lawyer. First, the lawyer has experience. Our attorneys at the Kans Law Firm, LLC have over twenty years of experience defending clients charged with DWI. Second, the lawyer has a track record of success. Our law firm has a perfect 10.0 rating on Avvo and is nationally ranked as one of the best DUI law firms according to NAFDD and the National Trial Lawyers Association. Third, the lawyer’s main focus is getting you the best outcome possible. Our client service tailors representation based on our clients’ goals and the specific circumstances surrounding their arrests. Contact the Kans Law Firm, LLC now at (952) 835-6314 to speak with one of our Minneapolis criminal defense lawyers about aggressively defending your DWI case.