COVID-19 Update: DWI Arrests Likely Once Bars Reopen
With Minnesotans watching to see if Gov. Tim Walz will ease COVID-19-related restrictions in the state on May 18th, bars, pubs, and taverns are already planning for when they are allowed to open their doors to the public. They are hoping for a surge after being closed for months. DWI arrests are likely to go up, too.
In the months since Walz declared a state of emergency and issued the stay-at-home order, various news outlets have reported that the number of drunk driving arrests in Minnesota has decreased. However, as the bars begin to reopen, it is plausible to assume the numbers of DWI arrests will increase as well.
It’s to be expected. Minnesotans have been dealing with drastic lifestyle changes during the pandemic: Isolating at home, only going out for the essential, travel for fun, family or business has been postponed, vacation plans canceled, all the while the news headlines tout the increasing number of cases and deaths in a scary daily mantra?
After months of living this way, a lot of people would need a drink. For those who head out to the bars upon their reopening, the law firm of Gerald Miller reminds you that even if you only have one drink, you can still be cited or arrested for DWI. In Minnesota, a motorist can be arrested and charged with driving while impaired even if he or she thought she was legally abiding by the law and has a blood alcohol content that is lower than the legal limit of 0.08 percent and lower than 0.04 percent if driving a commercial van or truck.
How is this possible? It’s how the law is written – and the authority it gives police officers to make a judgement call during a traffic stop. Any law enforcement official in the state of Minnesota can make DWI arrests if he or she appears to be driving under the influence of alcohol, or driving while impaired by alcohol. Under Minnesota law, there is one way to be charged with a DWI, if you have an alcohol concentration at or above a .08. But the same statute allows the state to prosecute someone without a test result over the legal limit if they are “under the influence.”
If you’re facing a DWI arrest in Minnesota and after you blew under .08, contact the criminal defense team of Gerald Miller, P.A. We handle all kinds of cases, but DWI law is our focus. With a BAC under .08, you may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Give us a call at 612-405-5522 to schedule a free case consultation. We are experienced in DWI arrests. We’re here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to fight for your rights and bring you the best outcome possible.
If you are stopped by an officer who suspects you of DWI, the first thing to remember is NOT to say too much. Don’t answer questions about whether you’ve been drinking. Don’t talk about finally getting to go out after being cooped up at home for weeks due to COVID-19. The last thing Minnesotans want are DWI arrests.
In this situation, there is no good answer. If you say you haven’t been drinking, and an officer notes slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, or the smell of booze on your breath, the lie will be included in the officer’s report on your arrest. At the same time, if you admit to drinking – even if you say it was a single glass of beer hours ago – the officer will consider it justification to investigate you for driving while impaired. The bottom line is, even if you admit to one drink, it is considered another reason for the officer to expand the scope of the stop and get you out of the vehicle.
Once outside of the vehicle, law enforcement will put you through what they call “standard field sobriety tests.” These tests can be refused, but that decision could result in DWI arrests. These tests are used to help build up the state’s evidence towards your level of impairment, so refusing to do them will give the state less to use when prosecuting you for the charge dealing solely with being under the influence.
Field sobriety tests include (but not limited to):
- The horizontal gaze nystagmus: or an involuntary jerking of the eyeball that occurs as the eyes gaze side to side;
- The walk-and-turn: where the motorist is asked to take nine steps touching heel to toe and in a straight line, turn, and repeat those steps back;
- The one-leg stand test: where the person is told to stand on one leg, hold the other leg about six inches off the ground and count beginning with one thousand one for thirty seconds;
- The preliminary breath test (PBT): the portable hand-held breath test that can be administered on the side of the road.
They also have the right to ask to speak to a DWI arrests attorney before agreeing to the ultimate test used for revoking your license or to create the charges in the criminal case. This final breath test is usually back at the police department or jail. The process can be overwhelming and scary. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Before you answer any questions, agree to any tests, or sign any form, you should insist on speaking to your Minnesota DWI lawyer.
Minnesota DWI attorney Gerald Miller and his team can help defend you and your rights. Our team handles all aspects of criminal law across the Twin Cities and statewide. Including DWI arrest and conviction. When asked to participate in field sobriety tests (FSTs) or a portable breath test, understand the implications of refusing those or participating in them can have. And, during the breath test advisory portion of most DWI’s, Minnesota law provides motorists with the right to talk to their attorney before deciding whether to participate in those tests. Call us at 612-440-4610. Remember, we are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help you.
As a licensed Minnesota driver, you should understand your rights during a DWI investigation whether you’ve ever been pulled over or not. The DWI attorneys at Gerald Miller Law Firm will look at all aspects of the traffic stop, including:
- Whether the officer had reasonable suspicion that a crime was being committed before executing a stop.
- Whether the officer met the standards established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) when administering the field sobriety tests (if you performed them), including the proper location for the test, proper mandatory demonstration of the FSTs, and application of the objective standard for scoring performance.
- Whether the officer had probable cause to make the traffic stop to check for the use of alcohol or drugs. If you don’t agree to a field sobriety test, the officer might have no evidence other than personal observations, which could be insufficient to establish probable cause.
- Whether the officer complied with strict rules of the Breath Test Advisory. Or in the case of a warrant, did they comply with the procedure necessary there. If an officer makes a mistake during these procedures, it could result in your test result, and possibly the corresponding license revocation or charges, dismissed.
- Whether the officer complied with the recommended 15-minute observation period when administering the evidentiary breath test to detect blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The officer also must ensure that no alcohol is ingested or expelled into the suspect’s mouth through regurgitation, belching, or vomiting.
- Whether the officer read your Miranda rights to counsel during questioning as well as the right against self-incrimination. If he or she didn’t, any incriminating statements might not be admissible during your DWI trial.
No matter the circumstances of your DWI case, we can help. The list above covers a number of common areas where a DWI can be challenged or fought. But, with DWI laws being very complicated, the list above is not everything we may have available in your specific case. There is always a chance for a positive outcome, and the legal team of Gerald Miller Law Firm won’t stop until it is reached. So before you head out, take a deep breath, stretch your legs, and remember that not only do you have rights – but the Minneapolis attorneys at Gerald Miller Law Firm are here to fight for you.
About Gerald Miller Law Firm
Were you or someone you love arrested for fleeing the police or another crime? The process can be worrisome – or even frightening. There is a lot of legal jargon to weave through and court dates to attend.
You’re not alone. We can help, whether it’s your first arrest or if you’ve been convicted in the past. If you are facing a Minnesota criminal conviction, the experienced Minneapolis defense attorneys at Gerald Miller Law Firm 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 their alleged evidence.
What makes Gerald Miller different from other Minnesota criminal defense lawyers?
The Minneapolis attorneys at Gerald Miller handle all aspects of criminal law across the Twin Cities and statewide, but we have focused on criminal defense and DWI arrests for nearly 40 years. A DWI conviction can affect your living situation, your finances, and your professional reputation. Don’t let one incident negatively impact your future.
We have earned dozens of positive Google, Yelp and Facebook reviews from satisfied clients. Our criminal defense firm is widely recognized throughout the Twin Cities for our professionalism, compassion, knowledge, and dedication both in and out of the courtroom. The Minneapolis defense attorneys at Gerald Miller 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.
Contact us today to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation 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. Visit www.geraldmillerlawyer.com or check us out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. We’re here to help.