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Can a DWI Be Reduced in Minnesota?

The good news for some motorists facing charges of driving while impaired (DWI) in Minnesota is that reduced charges might be a possibility. Unfortunately, this outcome is the exception and not the rule. If you’re wondering can a DWI be reduced in Minnesota, you should determine your set of circumstances.

Reduced charges are typically on available for drivers with no prior DWI convictions. While there are no broad requirements, prosecutors might consider a reduced charge in cases where your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was barely above the limit.

Every prosecutor takes a different approach to reducing DWI charges. By hiring a DWI defense attorney with experience handling cases in the court you are charged in, you could obtain a better understanding of your chances of a reduced charge. Contact the attorneys of Gerald Miller right away to learn more.

The Decision to Reduce Charges in Minnesota

Just like with the potential dismissal of criminal charges, it is ultimately the decision of the prosecutor to reduce a DWI offense to some other charge. This decision is entirely in the hands of the state, which makes selecting an attorney with an understanding of how to negotiate these charges helpful.

That does not mean your attorney will not have a role to play. In fact, your legal counsel will typically be the primary force driving the reduction of the charges against you. With the help of an attorney, you might be able to avoid a DWI conviction.

Reducing a DWI to Reckless Driving in Minnesota

When the prosecutor agrees to reduce a DWI charge, they typically reduce it to an offense known as reckless driving. In some jurisdictions, this is known as a “wet reckless.” In this case reduction is somewhat of a misnomer, as reckless driving is a misdemeanor just like 4th degree DWI. The important difference is that a reckless driving charge may not carry all of the collateral consequences that come with a DWI conviction.

The penalties associated with a reckless driving conviction are substantial given that the offense is a misdemeanor. The maximum jail term is 90 days and there is a fine of up to $1,000 as well.

How to Get a DWI Charge Reduced in Minnesota

There are multiple factors that can go into the decision to reduce a charge from DWI to reckless driving. Every prosecutor has their own guidelines, but most will not reduce a DWI for drivers with a BAC of .10 or above. Additionally, prosecutors are more likely to agree to a reduction of charges in cases where you complied with the police at the time of the arrest. The prosecutor will also likely take your driving record into account. If your record is full of moving violations it could hurt your chances of seeing a reduced charge.

The strength of your potential defense will also come into play. The stronger the case your attorney can make on your behalf, the more likely the state will be to consider reducing your charges.

Typically, the two best ways to take on a DWI charge are to challenge the police stop or the results of the chemical test. Challenging the police stop generally involves the argument that the police unlawfully pulled you over. The result of an unlawful search and seizure is the suppression of any evidence collected, making this defense a potent one.

Challenging the chemical test is also common. Breath, blood, and urine samples are only useful in showing intoxication if they are collected and tested following specific guidelines. If your attorney can establish that your sample was tainted or improperly stored, they could have the results of your test thrown out. Aggressively pursuing a defense in your case could lead to a reduction in charges or even a complete dismissal.

Other Defense Options Outside of a Reduction in Charges

The reality is that the prosecutors in Minnesota rarely agree to reduce a DWI charge. That does not mean you are without options when building your defense. There are several useful approaches that could help you secure a favorable outcome in your DWI case.

The reality is there could be many different approaches that could work for your DWI defense. An understanding of the law as well as the customs and procedures of Minnesota criminal courts is invaluable when determining the appropriate defense approach. The attorneys of Gerald Miller understand what it takes to maximize your chances of beating a DWI charge.

Dismissal of Your Charges

Without question, the best outcome possible following a DWI arrest is the dismissal of the charges against you. When these charges are dismissed, you will not have to roll the dice and take your case to trial. Securing a dismissal of the charges against you requires a strong defense. Just like with reducing a DWI charge, prosecutors are unlikely to dismiss these charges as well. Without a reason to do so, most prosecutors will take their chances at trial.

There are two general defense approaches that commonly lead to dismissed charges. The first involves challenging the underlying traffic stop involved in the DWI case. The second is attacking the admissibility of a blood, breath, or urine test at trial.

Attacking the traffic stop is a powerful option thanks to something known as the “fruit of the poisonous tree.” Under this legal doctrine, your attorney could suppress any evidence secured following your DWI arrest if the underlying arrest was unlawful. This could include any evidence during or after the stop, including an admission of drinking or even an incriminating breathalyzer result.

Another strong basis for a motion to dismiss is an attack on the accuracy of the chemical test. There are certain guidelines the state must follow when taking or testing blood, breath, or urine samples for the presence of alcohol. If the police or lab technicians mishandle a sample or lack the qualifications to collect it, your attorney could have the results of that test excluded at trial.

Plea Bargain

There are times when the evidence of guilt in a DWI case is overwhelming. In these situations, the best possible outcome usually involves limiting the penalties associated with a conviction. This can best be accomplished through a negotiated plea bargain. Often, a strong negotiation strategy could reduce or even eliminate the possibility of spending time behind bars. Negotiating a fair plea bargain can be challenging, especially without the guidance of an experienced attorney.

The attorneys of Gerald Miller have resolved countless DWI cases through plea bargaining through the years. We will work tirelessly to ensure you do not take an unreasonable plea deal. We are never afraid to take a case to trial and will fight back against the prosecution when it is in your best interest.

Acquittal at Trial

There are times when taking your case to trial is the right defense strategy. While most cases never see a jury, there are situations where we highly recommend our clients reject a plea offer and take their chances before a jury of their peers.

There are risks associated with taking a case to trial. After all, a conviction at trial leaves the potential penalty you face in the hands of the judge. There is nothing stopping the court from sentencing you to a jail term far tougher than what you were offered in a plea bargain.

Weighing your options and selecting a defense strategy in your DWI case can be difficult. The good news is that you never have to face these challenges on your own. The attorneys of Gerald Miller understand what is at stake during every DWI case. We will carefully evaluate your circumstances and advise you on the strength of the state’s case. If we are confident that your chances of prevailing at trial are good, we will advocate for you in front of a jury of your peers. Our aggressive approach to litigation has secured acquittals in the past and could work in your case as well.

Discuss Your Defense Strategy with a Minneapolis DWI Lawyer

Are you still asking how can a DWI Be Reduced in Minnesota? A successful defense strategy starts with hiring the right DWI attorney. While countless attorneys hold themselves out as defense lawyers, some have more experience than others. Your best chance for a reduced charge or an acquittal could come from the guidance of an experienced Minnesota DWI defense attorney.

The attorneys of Gerald Miller have a long track record of success in DWI defense. Our team understands how to take on these cases and win. To discuss the possibility of a reduced charge or a dismissal, call today for a free consultation.


This article was originally published on February 1, 2021 and updated on July 2, 2021.

About the author

Kyle Dreger

Kyle Dreger is a skilled DUI/DWI and Criminal Defense lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. Kyle has received his law degree from the University of St. Thomas School of Law. He is also a professionally trained basketball player.

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