You swore it would never happen, but it did. You were arrested for DWI. A couple of carefree drinks with your friends on a Friday night has suddenly become a very stressful chapter of your life, filled with worry about your career, your driving record, your finances and your reputation. Is it possible to get your DWI case dismissed in Minneapolis and Minnesota?
How did this happen? What do I do? Is there any way out? I thought I was ok. Was I even drunk? I can’t believe this. Was my arrest even necessary?
DWI Statistics in the United States
You likely feel some guilt, embarrassment and shame over your citation. You’re only human. And, you’re not alone: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than one million people in the U.S. were cited for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in 2016, the most recent year figures were reported.
The way law is structured in Minnesota makes it seem next to impossible to quickly move on from a driving while impaired conviction.
Repercussions of a DWI in Minneapolis and Minnesota
A DWI can negatively affect your life for years, with lingering repercussions like:
- Loss of driving privileges. If you’re an adult arrested for driving while impaired, you will lose your driver’s license for up to a year if it’s a first time offense. A BAC under 0.16 can suspend your license for up to 90 days. A BAC over 0.16 can lead to a year’s suspension. 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 $1,00 fine. You will lose your license for three months. The judge may sentence you to community service 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 those options sound good, do they? Asking a judge get a DWI case dismissed or convincing a prosecutor to reduce the charges are the best options for most defendants. For either to have any chance of happening, though, you must contact an experienced DWI lawyer in Minnesota as soon as possible after your arrest.
Refuse Any Field Sobriety Tests
You should have refused to undergo any field sobriety tests after the officer pulled you over – most lawyers will agree that’s a must. Whether you did or not, only an attorney can challenge roadside evidence in court, which the police and prosecution will use against you to secure a conviction. Again, an attorney who specializes in drunk driving cases is crucial to your success.
How can it be done? There are a few options.
DWI Breathalyzer Tests
DWI breathalyzer tests aren’t foolproof. They are prone to errors which could positively affect your case. The instrument can malfunction, for example, or the police might administer the test incorrectly. Even your diet, your health and environmental factors at the time of your arrest can affect your BAC reading and make it appear higher than it really is. It can be the difference between a BAC under 0.08, which puts you in the clear under Minnesota law, and a BAC which gets you in trouble.
Probable Cause for DWI Traffic Stops in Minneapolis and MN
An attorney can challenge the legality of a DWI arrest by questioning whether the officer had probable cause to conduct a traffic stop. He or she has to have seen you weaving in and out of traffic, speeding, following too closely, driving with a burned-out taillight, making a wrong turn or another violation. If your attorney can prove that the stop was illegal, all evidence – including the results of the breath test – are inadmissible in court.
Reducing DWI Charges in Minneapolis and Minnesota
Even if you cant get a DWI case dismissed, your charges can be reduced, which is a positive outcome no matter how you look at it. First-time offenders have a stronger chance to receive lower charges than a repeat offender. Some prosecutors will consider reducing a DWI charge to careless driving if the defendant has no prior offenses, a BAC under 0.10 and a good driving record. It helps if you were cooperative at the time of your arrest and if you followed the instructions of the court prior to your hearing, including completing an alcohol assessment and/or DWI classes.
Bottom line: getting a DWI case dismissed or reducing DWI charges are usually a long shot. Prosecutors have an interest in convicting people of drunk driving to the fullest extent of the law to encourage others to stay sober on the road. But a solution that makes the process easier for you is possible. That’s why hiring a solid legal team is important to the outcome of your case.
Each DWI Case Is Different in Minneapolis and Minnesota
A drunk driving citation in Minnesota is known as a DWI, which stands for driving while impaired. Many states refer to the charge as a DUI, short for diving under the influence.
Regardless of what authorities call it, a police officer can arrest someone on suspicion of DWI even if he or she hasn’t been drinking. In Minnesota, “impaired” can be applied to a person who is taking legal prescription drugs or even someone who is overly tired. It’s all up to the discretion of the arresting officer.
Sound like you or someone you know? Contact the experienced Minnesota DWI attorneys Gerald Miller, P.A. Our expert team will look at 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.
We are often asked, “Should I contest this case?” Yes. You should, absolutely, positively 100 percent of the time. Every arrest is different; few are open and shut cases. We look at every aspect of the case, from time of the arrest to the officer’s actions to the accuracy of your Breathalyzer test. There is always hope.
Is It Possible Get a DWI Case Dismissed at Trial in Minneapolis and Minnesota?
If you have been charged with DWI in Minnesota, there is no doubt that DWI case dismissed is the best-case scenario. It is not the only way to bring about a positive end to your DWI case, however. In many situations your best option could be to take your case to trial and fight for an acquittal.
The reality about DWI cases in Minnesota is that they are often defensible. The police make mistakes and jump to conclusions every day, and innocent people get arrested as a result. Even if there is evidence that you were under the influence, that evidence could be suppressed at trial if your rights were violated.
In fact, excluding evidence is one of the best strategies to take in these cases. This is thanks to a legal doctrine referred to as “fruit of the poisonous tree.” Under this theory, any evidence that is secured through the violation of your rights should not be admissible at trial. In other words, anything that stems from the police improperly searching your or seizing your property should not be viable evidence against you.
The attorneys of Gerald Miller have extensive experience with suppression hearings in DWI cases. One of the most common ways to suppress evidence is by showing that the underlying traffic stop was illegal. The police do not have the right to pull you over for any reason imaginable. Instead, they must have a reasonable suspicion that you have violated the law before they can make a traffic stop.
Even if you are unable to exclude evidence from trial, there are different ways that your attorney could help establish reasonable doubt. This is true whether you submitted to a breath test or not. This may help get your DWI case dismissed or reduced in Minneapolis.
Is Expungement an Option in Minneapolis and Minnesota?
Expungement is the act of removing your criminal conviction from the public record. While it does not undo your conviction, it allows you to avoid many of the consequences that can come with a finding of guilt.
The ability to expunge a criminal record was limited in Minnesota until recent years. Now, these expungements have become a reality—but only in certain cases. The good news is that expungement could be a viable option for you.
There are situations where expungement is a possibility following a DWI conviction. Specifically, you could qualify for expungement if you are convicted of misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor DWI. The primary difference between these two circumstances is the amount of time you have to wait.
If you have been convicted of fourth-degree DWI, you are not eligible to seek expungement until two years from the date the sentence is discharged. That means from the date you have served your sentence, completed probation, and paid all fines. For a second- or third-degree DWI, you must wait four years.
If you have been convicted of a felony DWI, you are out of luck. State law does not permit a person to seek expungement of a felony DWI under any circumstances. That is why it is vital that you consider all of your defense options before you ever plead guilty to a felony DWI offense. In many cases, taking your chances at trial and fighting for an acquittal could be your best option.
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 – we can defend you on traffic citations, drug charges, theft, weapons charges, probation and parole violations and more – but we have specialized in DWIs for decades. A DWI affects your driving ability, your finances and your professional reputation. We may be able to get your DWI case dismissed or reduced. Don’t let one mistake hinder a promising future.
We can help you put this behind you.
Call the attorneys at Gerald Miller today at 612-440-4610. 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. You can contact us here or find us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
A DWI or DUI charge can happen to anybody. We are on your side.
Originally published December 18, 2018 and updated on September 28, 2021.