In 2013, more than 350 DWI arrests were made during Memorial Day weekend in Minnesota. A significant increase since years prior, DWI arrests are on an upward trend, particularly on holidays and holiday weekends. Between parades, cookouts and get-togethers with family and friends, Memorial Day weekend is both a time for celebration and remembrance. Because local law enforcement will be on the lookout for signs of DWI, partygoers should take extra care to stay safe and avoid criminal charges. When planning this year’s Memorial Day festivities, take a few important steps to protect yourself from a DWI charge.
Memorial Day DWI Arrests Soar in 2013
Compared to the state total for 2013 DWI arrests, Minnesota’s Memorial Day weekend celebrations accounted for 2% of the year’s total arrests and resulted in 4 deaths. At the end of 2013, Minnesota Law Enforcement increased DWI enforcement efforts for more than a month to prevent DWI-related accidents during the busy holiday season. Though approximately 10% of Minnesota DWI arrests in 2013 occurred in the month before New Year’s, Memorial Day weekend is well-known as a leading contributor to the state’s DWI arrest rate.
Minnesota’s DWI Penalties
While the top reason to prevent a DWI charge is to prevent accident-related injury or death, the potential repercussions associated with this charge are effective motivators. Between an inability to legally drive and the possibility of jail time, DWI penalties can stifle basic liberties and rob you of an ability to live freely. Here’s a breakdown of Minnesota’s serious DWI repercussions:
First offense. Depending on your blood alcohol level at time of arrest, the first DWI offense may result in penalties ranging from a misdemeanor charge to a year without driving privileges.
Second offense. With fines of up to $3,000, impounded license plates and 2 years without driving privileges, a second DWI offense can greatly affect your quality of life. If a child is present in the vehicle, your legal repercussions may be even more severe.
Third offense. Licenses can be canceled and vehicles forfeited after a 3rd DWI charge. More than three charges may result in a felony DWI, which can include penalties of up to 7 years in prison.
Felony and vehicular homicide. The most serous of DWI-related charges, arrests involving injury and/or death carry severe repercussions. Defendants without proper legal representation can face up to a $20,000 fine and 10-year prison sentence upon conviction.
During Memorial Day and other national celebrations, the rate of DWI arrests increase significantly, affecting many lives in the process. While the consequences are steep, there are additional hidden costs to consider even after receiving a DWI. Between the need for safety classes, alternate transportation and reinstatement fees, individuals often face significant financial hardship after receiving a DWI. As a result, people who face these charges can find themselves unable to work or to even meet their basic needs.
How to Stay Safe this Memorial Day
Given the extent of potential repercussions, it’s in everyone’s best interest to avoid receiving a DWI charge during the 2014 Memorial Day weekend. Use these five tips to prevent an unnecessary DWI charge:
- Obtain alternate transportation. If arranged in advance, alternate modes of transportation can prevent you from driving under the influence while enhancing your enjoyment of the holiday.
- Stay within walking distance of your destination. During any holiday season, risks during travel increase whether or not you’ve been drinking. When traveling, staying within walking distance of your primary destination will prevent you from getting behind the wheel and keep you out of harm’s way.
- Use the 1:1 rule. Alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to reduce your total intake and decrease the effects of intoxication. Sticking to this rule will help you celebrate while staying safe.
- Avoid driving while intoxicated – period. A misconception about DWI laws is they apply only to individuals caught driving after drinking alcohol. Any substance causing intoxication, including narcotics, prescription drugs and marijuana, may result in a DWI charge if you choose to drive.
By taking these measures, you and loved ones can safely and happily celebrate the holiday weekend. It is also important to know how to react if you do find yourself in a DWI situation.
What to Do If You Get Stopped by Law Enforcement
Being pulled over by law enforcement may seem frightening, but it doesn’t have to be. During busy Memorial Day weekends, it is likely police will be stopping drivers at established checkpoints throughout the state. Preparing for this possibility will help you through the experience. Adhere to the following three steps if you get stopped:
- Remain calm. First, it’s important to remain calm after being pulled over. Powerful emotions may begin to rush through your head, but staying calm is the best way to handle the situation.
- Understand your rights. Learning and understanding your rights is tantamount to preserving them during the legal process. Specifically, you have the right to speak with an attorney before answering any questions.
- Contact a knowledgeable attorney. Consulting an attorney with documented experience defending DWI cases is a priority after an arrest. To ensure your rights are protected during the legal process, be sure to work with an experienced lawyer.
What Happens After Contacting a Lawyer?
Reaching out to an attorney is just the beginning of resolving your case. At Kans Law Firm, we start with a review of the documentation and details related to the charge. We thoroughly review your legal options and explore the best courses of action as we work through the details of your case. Each DWI charge involves a variety of factors with time-sensitive requirements that must be met.
Contact an Experienced DWI Attorney Now
Being charged with a DWI will not just ruin your weekend, it might change the course of your life. Don’t waste time on court-provided representation to defend your case; once charged with a DWI, nothing short of quickly obtaining representation will improve your situation. At Kans Law Firm, we’ve helped many Minnesota residents navigate the confusing waters of DWI law after a charge. We can help you, too. Contact Kans Law Firm today for a friendly consultation.