Minnesota DWI Lawyer Gerald Miller and his team strives for the most positive outcome possible when representing clients. Dismissal is the ideal solution to a DWI case, but sometimes the best end result is probation along with unavoidable criminal and administrative penalties that come with the charge.
Probation in Minnesota for a first-time misdemeanor DWI typically is one to two years. It’s longer – anywhere from two to six years – if it is a client’s second or third offense, and/or if the DWI charge is increased to a gross misdemeanor, which happens if the defendant refused a breath test, had a BAC .16 percent or higher, or if a minor was in the car at the time of the arrest.
The Prevalence of DWI in America
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 1.5 million people annually are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. That breaks down to one out of every 121 licensed drivers in the U.S.
Many states refer to drunk driving as a DUI, or driving under the influence. Minnesota refers to the charge as a DWI, or driving while impaired. State law doesn’t just include drunk driving; it’s also driving while impaired by drugs, including prescription medications as well as illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine, etc.
DWI in Minneapolis and Minnesota
In Minnesota, it is against the law to drive if you have a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher, as measured within 2 hours of you driving. For every 88 instances of driving, someone is arrested for operating a motor vehicle above the legal limit. Within two hours of drinking – at any given location in the country, including Minnesota – an average of 772 drivers will be arrested for drunk driving, the NHTSA reports.
The level of DWI punishment in Minnesota typically depends on the degree of your DWI charge – and whether you have others on your record – as well as the facts and circumstances surrounding the case. The most crucial and perhaps most life-altering civil consequence of a DWI conviction is the loss of your driving privileges. Even a first-time DWI offense where your BAC is less than 0.16 percent results in some loss of driving privileges for up to a year. You are highly likely to lose your license if convicted of a DWI in Minnesota.. A work permit and use of an ignition interlock is possible, however.
If your blood alcohol concentration for a first-time DWI offense was lower than 0.16 percent, you can face up to ninety days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, if during that offense, you also had a child in your car, you can face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $3,000.
Conditions of Probation in Minneapolis and Minnesota
An experienced DWI attorney – especially one experienced in DWI cases like Minnesota DWI Lawyer Gerald Miller – is imperative if probation is the preferred alternative to jail. Probation can either be heavily supervised or lightly supervised by a probation officer, which is another reason to have a great attorney on your side. Your lawyer can push for light supervision, as we have some methods to try and accomplish that. Probation will require you to do any or all of the following, depending on what the judge decides. Here are some of the common conditions of probation that could be a part of your sentence:
- Abstain from alcohol and drugs
- Remain Law Abiding
- Complete a DWI educational program.
- Meet with a probation officer and pass random drug and alcohol tests
- Complete community service
- Complete electronic home monitoring using an ankle monitor
- Complete all requirements by a set time frame, not to exceed the end of the probationary period
- Abstain from driving, unless you are valid again through a work permit and/or the interlock device
If you fail to complete or abide by any of the terms of your probation, a judge could issue a warrant for your arrest. He or she could throw out your initial probation sentence and issue jail and additional fines. Your probation could be extended longer. So, if there was any stayed or potential jail time hanging over your head, the judge could impose some or all of that. Bottom line: It’s best to comply at all times so you can complete probation and move on with your life as soon as possible.
Other Favorable Outcomes to a DWI Charge
For many people, a plea bargain that includes probation is a good outcome following a DWI arrest. That said, there are many other ways you might be able to resolve your case that are more favorable.
When you meet with the attorneys of Gerald Miller for the first time, you will have the opportunity to ask questions and learn about your legal options. For many, this initial consultation is an opportunity to learn about legal outcomes they never thought possible. Never plead guilty to a DWI charge before you speak with an attorney first.
Reduction in Minnesota DWI Charges
In some cases, the best possible outcome for a DWI case is to have the severity of the charge reduced. In Minnesota, this specifically applies to drivers who have a previous conviction on their record.
If you have a prior DWI conviction or some other aggravating factor, you could face a higher level of DWI offense. That can be problematic, given that these offenses generally carry higher minimum and maximum penalties. For that reason, any reduction in charge could make the difference between spending time behind bars and avoiding jail.
There are times when the law might require the prosecution to reduce the charge. For example, the state may only consider prior offenses that occurred within the previous 10 years. This is known as the “look-back” period. Any prior misdemeanor conviction that occurred outside of that window of time should not be considered by the state when determining the degree of DWI you face.
Prosecutors are human. And just like all humans, they make mistakes. It is not unusual for a prosecutor to miscalculate the amount of time that has passed since a prior conviction. If your attorney can show that your previous arrest and conviction is outside of the look-back period, you could see the charges against you reduced.
Dismissal of DWI in Minneapolis and Minnesota
If you have been arrested and charged with DWI, there is no question that the best possible outcome for your case is dismissal. With a dismissal, you could see your DWI case come to an end without the risk of taking your case to trial.
Prosecutors take DWI offenses seriously and will not dismiss a charge out of the goodness of their heart. Instead, dismissals occur when you provide a strong defense strategy that makes it clear the prosecution will not win. There are two common defense strategies in a DWI case: attacking the stop and attacking the test.
Attacking the police stop that led to the DWI arrest is a common tactic for a reason. If the police unlawfully pull you over, any evidence they collect after that should be excluded from trial. That could include your admission that you were drinking, the breath test result that shows your high blood alcohol content, or the video of your failed field sobriety test. The court has the power to exclude all evidence that stems from an illegal police stop thanks to a legal doctrine known as the “fruit of the poisonous tree.”
Attacking the test is another strong option. The best evidence for the state in most DWI cases is a blood, breath, or urine test result showing a blood alcohol content over the legal limit. If the sample was not property collected or tested according to state law, it could be possible to have the test results through out. This is because state standards for these tests are in place to avoid contamination that could lead to a false positive test result.
Acquittal of DWI Charges in Minneapolis and Minnesota
Dismissal is not an option for everyone charged with DWI. Sometimes having a strong defense strategy is not enough to push the prosecutor to do the right thing and drop the charges against you. When this happens, taking your case to trial might be your best option for a favorable outcome.
There are risks with going to trial. If you are found guilty, the penalties could be greater than any plea bargain you were offered. That said, defendants routinely prevail in DWI cases. If you win at trial, you will avoid a criminal conviction entirely. Before you decide on this option, reach out to the attorneys of Gerald Miller for a free consultation.
What Should You Do When You Get a DWI in Minneapolis?
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 Minnesota DWI Lawyer Gerald Miller. Our 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.
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 focused on DWI law for decades. A DWI affects your driving ability, your finances and your professional reputation. Don’t let one mistake hinder a promising future.
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.
Originally published on February 25, 2019 and updated on September 16, 2021.