More than 34 million people over the age of 18 – including 14.5 percent of Minnesotans – smoke cigarettes. While tobacco use is down overall compared to 15 or 20 years ago, a substantial number of people still smoke cigarettes, enjoy cigars, or chew tobacco. If you use tobacco, and if you’ve been charged with DWI, keep reading. Smoking cigarettes may result in false breathalyzer results – which means your Minnesota drunk driving charges could be reduced or thrown out altogether.
If you were arrested for DWI during a traffic stop in Minneapolis, Edina, Bloomington, Saint Paul, or elsewhere in Minnesota, set up a free case evaluation with one of the knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers at Gerald Miller, P.A.
Our Minneapolis law firm handles all types of criminal law, but we have a special focus on DWI. We’ve been successfully defending people across the Twin Cities and the state for more than 40 years. Give us a call at 612-440-3212 or fill out our contact form. We’re here and ready to fight for your rights 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Smoking and DWI
Drinking and smoking appear to go hand in hand for many people. Studies have found that some men and women who smoke also drink. At the same time, some who don’t normally smoke or are former smokers find that they crave tobacco while having a beer, cocktail, or glass of wine. Whatever the case, social smoking has to do with how nicotine affects dopamine levels in the brain, and how for some, even the memory of enjoying a cigarette along with alcohol can create an urge to smoke even decades after quitting.
Whether they smoke tobacco or not, people are getting cited for drunk driving. DWI arrests in Minnesota were up four percent in 2019 after trending downward in previous years, according to the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. The newspaper recently reported that 27,975 drivers last year were picked up for DWI by state and local law enforcement officers, compared to 26,825 in 2018. It is not known how many of those people use tobacco or had been using it at the time of their arrest. Regardless, arrests are up. You’re not alone. And if you smoke cigarettes, your habit could have created false Breathalyzer results during your traffic stop.
Tobacco Use and DWI
Smoking and drunk driving among adults in Minnesota have interesting data associated with them. While one certainly doesn’t equal the other, the numbers are worth noting. For example:
– The most common age group for smoking nationally is 25 to 44, followed by 45 to 64, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
– Drunk driving arrests are most common among adults between the ages of 25 and 34, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
– Men are more likely than women to smoke.
– Men are arrested more often than women, for drunk driving, with four male drunk drivers cited for every one female, the NHTSA reports.
How Tobacco Use May Lead to False Breathalyzer Test Results
The main chemical in cigarette smoke is acetaldehyde. It’s produced when sugars, sorbitol, and glycerol are burned once a cigarette is lit and smoked. It’s a big component of cigarette smoke, along with tar, carbon monoxide, and of course, nicotine.
But what makes acetaldehyde worrisome with regard to a DWI arrest is its possible impact on a Breathlyzer test officers typically administer during or after a traffic stop to determine how much, if any, a motorist has had to drink. In Minnesota and all 50 states, it is illegal to get behind the wheel with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. However, you also can get a DWI if your BAC is lower than 0.08 if the police officer deems you too impaired to drive. A separate blog we wrote covers that issue.
If you had a cigarette just before you were stopped for DWI, your BAC may be higher than it otherwise would be. That means it was a false Breathalyzer result. That’s because studies have found that breathalyzers can’t tell the difference between alcohol and acetaldehyde. Both can lead to a higher blood-alcohol reading. Acetaldehyde appears in larger concentrations in the lungs of cigarette smokers.
If you are a smoker, your BAC reading, or false Breathalyzer, could be the difference between a DWI on your criminal record or the chance to get your charges reduced or dismissed.
It’s worth looking into if you are a regular smoker or merely a social smoker. There’s always a chance for a positive outcome, especially with an experienced DWI lawyer on your side. We have defended all kinds of DWI cases, including difficult and complicated arrests. Whether it’s your first DWI or if you’ve been charged before, the Minneapolis DWI attorneys at Gerald Miller, PA can help. False Breathalyzer results could get your DWI charge dismissed or reduced.
The highly-skilled team at Gerald Miller DWI, DUI and criminal defense can provide the guidance you need to get through a driving under the influence citation, including a false Breathalyzer result from smoking. We will work with prosecutors to get the citation thrown out. A positive outcome is always our goal. We have a high success rate. And, our clients look to us for guidance, legal savvy, respect, and compassion.
Our Minnesota DWI attorneys will work hard to protect your legal rights and ensure that you obtain the best possible results in your case. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you have been arrested and charged with a DWI offense in Minnesota, you should immediately contact one of our experienced DWI lawyers. The penalties associated with a DWI conviction can be serious and have long-lasting consequences. Why risk that if you believe your BAC stemmed from a False Breathalyzer result?
Will a DWI Affect My Future?
A DWI can negatively affect your life for years, with lingering repercussions. Those include:
- Loss of driving privileges. If you’re an adult arrested for driving while impaired, you can lose your driver’s license for up to a year if it’s a first time offense. A BAC under 0.16 can mean your license gets revoked for up to 90 days. A BAC over 0.16 can lead to a year’s revocation. In any instance, your driving privileges can be limited to work or with the use of an ignition lock, which means you can’t start your car until you blow into a device that measures your blood alcohol level. And remember, you can get a DWI in Minnesota if an officer believes you are impaired by illegal drugs like marijuana (still prohibited in Minnesota) and cocaine, but also if you are using pain medication or other prescription drugs that can affect your driving ability.
- Fines and possible jail time. Minnesota’s maximum for a fourth-degree DWI is 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. And depending on your specific situation, test result, plea agreement, etc, you could face a civil punishment where your license is revoked. The judge may sentence you to community service or other jail or jail alternatives and probation for up to two years.
- Higher vehicle insurance rates. A misdemeanor DWI conviction will cause your auto insurance rates to skyrocket. Rates will eventually go down, but expect to pay more for a few years. You also could be required to obtain SR-22 insurance for high-risk drivers, which is another expense. You could also lose your current insurance coverage if your policy decides to cancel you because of a DWI conviction.
- A blemished record that could diminish job prospects. Most companies check out the criminal records of job candidates. Landlords also conduct background checks before approving a lease agreement. Men and women convicted of driving while impaired are sometimes viewed by others as being reckless, immature or as having an alcohol or drug problem.
None of the options are pleasant. Asking a judge to dismiss the case or convincing a prosecutor to reduce the charges are the best options for most defendants.
Smoking is a huge health issue that can have fatal consequences, including lung cancer, heart disease, and lung disease. But consuming tobacco is legal if you’re older than 18 years of age. Just because you smoke doesn’t mean you should suffer the criminal and legal consequences of a drunk driving conviction permanently on your record.
Don’t wait. Schedule a free case evaluation now.
About Gerald Miller, P.A.
Were you or someone you love arrested for DWI? The process can be worrisome – or even frightening. There is a lot of legal jargon to weave through and court dates to attend.
We can help, whether it’s your first DWI or if you’ve been convicted in the past, and whether you’re a smoker or not. We also handle drug crimes and other defense cases.
If you are facing a Minnesota DWI conviction, the experienced Minneapolis DWI attorneys at Gerald Miller, P.A. will review your case and determine the best course of action. We will guide you through the process, working toward a positive outcome no matter the circumstances of the arrest. Our firm has a high success rate. We’ve fought cases all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court. We dig into every aspect of the case, from the time of the arrest the officer’s actions to the accuracy of your Breathalyzer test.
What makes Gerald Miller different from other Minnesota criminal defense lawyers?
The Minneapolis lawyers at Gerald Miller handle all aspects of criminal law across the Twin Cities and statewide, but we have focused on DWIs for nearly 40 years. A DWI affects your driving ability, your finances, and your professional reputation. Don’t let one mistake negatively impact your future.
We have earned dozens of positive Google, Yelp and Facebook reviews from satisfied clients. Our firm is widely recognized throughout the Twin Cities for our professionalism, compassion, knowledge, and dedication both in and out of the courtroom. The Minneapolis DWI attorneys at Gerald Miller DWI Law Firm are respected by our peers, colleagues, judges, and prosecutors. We have earned national awards and accolades from the American Bar Association, The National Trial Lawyers, the American Institute of DWI/DUI Attorneys, the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys, the National Academy for DUI Defense, and more.
Gerald Miller, P.A. also has received the elite “SuperLawyer” distinction by Thomson Reuters.
Legal Counsel is Critical to Success
The sooner you contact us, the faster we can start protecting your rights. Even if your case cannot be dismissed, the charges may be reduced and punishment can be minimized, which are positive outcomes as well. There are a number of details in each person’s case that could have a huge impact on the possible outcome. It also helps if you were cooperative at the time of your arrest and if you followed the court’s requirements prior to your hearing, including completing an alcohol assessment and/or DWI classes. We create a game plan for each client, and get to work!
Contact us today to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation at 612-430-6743. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to give you some answers, a little hope, and plenty of well-deserved peace of mind. Visit geraldmillerlawyer.com or check us out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.