There are two types of charges that can arise out of a DWI – a criminal and civil case. To someone who doesn’t know too much about Minnesota criminal law, this can get very confusing. This post tackles the difference between criminal and civil implied consent proceedings.
Criminal DWI Charges
Proceedings for a criminal DWI charge begin the moment an officer pulls over a vehicle because he suspects the driver to be intoxicated. The officer’s suspicion would have to be reasonably articulate. This means the driver could have been swerving, speeding, or ran a red light. After pulling the vehicle over, the officer would have to inform the driver of the reason why he or she was flagged down. Next is asking the driver to step down from the vehicle so he or she could perform the field sobriety tests to determine probably cause.
If the driver fails the field sobriety tests, the officer would have to recite the Miranda Warning before making the arrest. Throughout the entire process, the driver’s rights would have to be preserved. Should the arresting officer fail to uphold the driver’s rights in the criminal proceedings, a criminal charge may not be successful. A criminal DWI charge can result to jail time and heavy fines.
Civil Implied Consent Proceedings
Civil implied consent proceedings begin when the arresting officer brings in the driver to the police station and asks him or her to subject to a chemical test. This stage is called the “implied consent” process for a reason.
In 1961, the Minnesota Implied Consent Statute was implemented to ensure that anyone who is issued a driver’s license will make a conscious effort to keep roads safe. Before an individual’s license is released, he or she would first need to sign the statute. Simply put, the Implied Consent Statute states that in exchange for a driver’s license, the individual agrees to subject himself or herself to a chemical test should he or she be arrested for DWI and that the result of the test can be used against him or her in a court of law.
According to the Minnesota Statute 169A.51 Subdivision 2, the officer administering the test should advise the driver that he or she is required (by Minnesota driving laws) to take the test. Failure to do so means that the officer violated the procedure therefore, the driver may not be held liable for a violation he or she did not know about. As a result, a civil implied consent charge may not be valid.
When a driver is found guilty of a civil implied consent charge, his or her driver’s license can be revoked.
Rights of a Driver Charged with Criminal DWI and Civil Implied Consent
Establishing the rights of a driver in criminal DWI and civil implied consent charges can be complicated. It is important for the driver to have his or her case reviewed and analyzed by an experienced defense attorney to ensure that his or her rights are protected through the course of the proceedings.