Multiple studies have shown that members of the LGBTQ community are at a higher risk of developing alcoholism. For example, 25 percent of transgender and homosexual individuals reportedly abuse alcohol, according to the Center for American Progress. That is a shockingly high percentage, especially when considering the fact that around 5 to 10 percent of the general population reportedly engage in excessive alcohol consumption. Other studies discovered a similarly disproportionate percentage of abuse with other substances, including smoking cigarettes, smoking marijuana, and recreational drug use.
Medical professionals believe that members of the LGBTQ community may be inclined to abuse alcohol, and other substances, to help cope with a high level of stress that typically comes from being discriminated against by others and subjected to various social prejudices in employment, health care, etc. For example, in approximately 29 states, it is legal for an employer to deny an applicant who identifies as gay or transgender purely on the basis of their sexual orientation or identification. In fact, a survey revealed that approximately 43 percent of gay and 90 percent of transgender people experienced some form of discrimination and harassment while in the workplace, according to the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy.
This constant undercurrent of discrimination has been described as “minority stress,” according to the American Psychological Association. This term encompasses the negative effects linked with the adverse social conditions encountered by members of a marginalized social group.
Considering a quarter of gay and transgender individuals reportedly abuse alcohol, it stands to reason that members of the LGBTQ community are at greater risk of being pulled over and charged with a DWI in Minnesota and across the country. If you or a family member was charged with a DWI in Hennepin County, Minnesota or elsewhere in the Twin Cities, it is critically important to retain the services of an experienced and aggressive DWI defense lawyer.
You can be charged by police in Minnesota with Driving While Intoxicated (i.e. DWI) for consuming alcohol to the point where it impairs your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle or even by consuming a prescription medication that hinders your ability to operate a vehicle. In fact, there are certain medications that, simply by having them in your body while driving can lead to being charged with a DWI. It is also important to know that it is against the law to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.
In Minnesota, the legal standard that state police follow for assessing a driver’s sobriety is 0.08 percent. This means that if a motorist blows into a Breathalyzer device and that device shows a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or greater, the police will likely arrest and charge that motorist with a DUI/DWI offense. In addition, Minnesota drivers could potentially be charged with an “aggravated DWI” if the Breathalyzer test reveals you have a BAC of 0.16 percent or higher. Furthermore, Minnesota is a “zero tolerance” state when it comes to underage drinking. This means if a driver has alcohol in their system and they are under the age of 21, they can be arrested and charged with a DWI.
The reason you, or your family member, need the services of an experienced and aggressive Hennepin County DWI defense attorney is because the penalties associated with a DWI conviction are quite severe and may significantly hinder your future.
If you have a clean driving record and are convicted, for the first time, with a DWI, the penalties remain harsh. For example, a DWI conviction for a first-time offender can still result in a jail sentence. The law allows a judge to order an offender to spend up to 90 days in jail. If your BAC was 0.16 percent or higher, the maximum jail sentence increases to one year. This is on top of a monetary fine of up to $1,000 (this amount more than doubles if you had a BAC of 0.16 percent or higher) and having your license suspended for at least 90 days.
If you have multiple DUI/DWI convictions on your record, then the penalties only get worse. For example, if you are convicted of a DWI and you have a prior DWI conviction on your record, then you will be required to serve at least 30 days in jail, in addition to a monetary fine of at least $3,000. A third DWI conviction typically results in a 90-day-minimum jail sentence and monetary fines up to $10,000. A fourth DWI conviction typically results in a 180-day-minimum jail sentence and monetary fines up to $14,000.
When charged with a DWI, it can be tempting to simply accept whatever the state offers in terms of a deal. However, it is important to speak with a seasoned DWI defense attorney to discuss your legal options and any viable defenses. A lawyer can effectively advise you of the availability of a defense. Though, it is important to understand that the availability and viability of a defense depends largely on the unique circumstances of your case.
A potential defense that could be utilized is challenging the authenticity or veracity of the breathalyze results. It may be possible to examine the breathalyzer to determine whether or not it was reliable and functioning properly. Another potential defense is challenging the actions of the police officer who pulled you, or your family member, over. Did the police officer have probable cause to pull you over? Did they administer a field sobriety test? These are questions that need to be asked and answered before you agree to any plea deal or a conviction.
Now is the time to take action by contacting an experienced Minnesota DWI defense lawyer. The Kans Law Firm is located in Hennepin County, Minnesota, but proudly serves the entire Twin Cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, and surrounding areas such as Dakota County, Carver County, Scott County, Anoka County, Washington County and the cities of Edina, Burnsville, Chaska, Eagan, Minnetonka and Bloomington, etc. Contact our office today to schedule a free, confidential consultation with Minneapolis DWI lawyer Douglas T. Kans of the Kans Law firm at (952) 835-6314 or 1-888-972-6060.
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In Post Image Credit; Tony Webster / Wikimedia Commons