Do You Lose Your License Immediately After a DWI Arrest in Minneapolis?
In Minnesota, you do not lose your driver’s license immediately following a DWI arrest. However, the state can begin the process of revoking your driving privileges right away—long before you are ever convicted of a crime.
What’s more, there is also the possibility that you could lose your license following a conviction for DWI. In other words, you must prevail not only during the administrative hearing but also in your criminal case as well in order for you to protect your right to drive.
The attorneys at Gerald Miller understand how important reliable transportation is. We are prepared to help you not only fight the criminal charges against you but also to give you the best chance to prevail on the administrative side as well. Reach out for a free consultation right away to get started.
Administrative Suspension Based on Implied Consent Rules
There is the potential to lose your right to drive following an arrest for DWI. This is possible due to the state’s implied consent laws. While the loss of your license will not happen immediately following your arrest, you could see your right to drive disappear in a matter of days if you do not take immediate action.
The police have the power to initiate the process of an administrative license suspension immediately following your arrest for DWI. Because you could see your license suspended in a matter of days, it is vital that you seek legal counsel to protect your driving privileges.
There are two situations where the state could pursue the administrative suspension of your driving privileges. While there are only two options, combined they apply to virtually all DWI arrests. First, the police can seek administration suspension of your driving privileges if you failed a blood, breath, or urine test following a DWI arrest. Second, you could also see your license suspended if you refuse to submit to a chemical test in violation of the state’s implied consent laws.
What are Implied Consent Laws in Minnesota?
Like all states, Minnesota has something known as “implied consent” laws. Implied consent applies to anyone who drives, operates, or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle within the boundaries of the state. According to implied consent laws, you give your implied consent to submit to blood, breath, or urine testing in order to determine if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol while driving.
Although the law applies to blood, breath, or urine samples, the same standard does not apply across the board. Law enforcement has the right to require you to submit to a breath test without first seeking a warrant from a judge. That is not the case with blood or urine testing, given that the courts find these options more invasive.
The police can also not seek a breath test or a warrant for a blood or urine test for no reason. They must have probable cause to believe you were driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol. This usually involves one of the various signs of intoxicated driving the police cite during court proceedings, like:
- Weaving across lanes
- Driving well below the speed limit
- Admitting to using drugs or alcohol
- Smelling alcohol on your breath
- Failure on field sobriety tests
- Failure on portable breath tests
Once an officer has probable cause, they can require you to submit to a breath test. If you refuse to do so, there are consequences that can come into play. One of those consequences is the administrative suspension of your driving privileges.
The Administrative Suspension Process in Minnesota
It is important to understand the process the state will follow to administratively suspend your driving privileges. First and foremost, the state can begin this process even if you have never been convicted of a crime. These suspensions are administrative, meaning the rights that apply in criminal cases will not protect you.
In fact, the officer who arrests you will seize your driver’s license at the time of your arrest. That does not mean your right to drive is gone as well—at least, not immediately. When the arresting office seizes your physical license, they will replace it with a temporary paper license. This temporary license gives you seven days to drive before your administrative suspension goes into effect.
While it is possible for a suspension to go into effect after only seven days, you also have the right to appeal your administrative suspension. If you provide the state with notice that you dispute your suspension, you will retain your right to drive until your administrative case is heard.
Your administrative suspension will ultimately be resolved at a hearing. The office will appear and testify, and you will have the chance to speak as well. That said, your attorney is likely to advise you that submitting to questioning at these hearings is not in your best interest. If your attorney can show that the suspension was wrongful, they could help you retain your driving privileges.
Other Administrative Consequences
There are other types of administrative actions the state can take that could impact your right to drive. These actions also have the potential to occur even if you have not yet been convicted of a crime.
One of the most common administrative consequences that can occur following a DWI arrest is plate impoundment. The arresting officer has the ability to issue an impound order. Plate impoundment is the act of physically seizing the license plates of a vehicle following a DWI arrest.
Plate impoundment is not always an option. There must be an aggravating factor present in order for the arresting officer to impound a plate. These aggravating factors could include a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) or .16 or more, having a minor child present in the vehicle at the time of the arrest, or having a prior DWI conviction on your record.
There is also an administrative process that covers the forfeiture of the entire vehicle, not just the license plate. This is only an option in cases where you are charged with a first-degree DWI or it is your third DWI in the past 10 years. The forfeiture of a vehicle can only happen once the state has successfully secured the administrative suspension of your driving privileges.
Understanding the Civil Hearing
Even though you do not have the same rights during a civil hearing that you would in a criminal trial, there are rules and guidelines that come with these hearings. They represent your opportunity to fight back against a potential civil revocation of your license.
One of the reasons the civil hearing can be helpful is that it typically takes place before your trial. That means your attorney could use the civil process to gain insight into the strength of the state’s criminal case.
The defenses raised during your administrative hearing are likely to be the same that come up in your criminal trial. For example, your license could be reinstated if you can establish that your traffic stop was unlawful. This same defense could be your best option for avoiding a conviction at trial.
Can I Have an Attorney at the Administrative Hearing?
You are under no obligation to take on the challenge of an administrative revocation of your driver’s license alone. In fact, it is highly recommended that you seek out legal counsel that can assist you with your case. An attorney from our firm could ensure that you file your request for a hearing on time while aggressively pursuing a favorable outcome in your administrative case.
Many DWI defense attorneys will agree to handle both the criminal and civil aspects of your DWI arrest. This is beneficial, as working with the same attorney on these related but independent cases could put you in a position where success is more likely. On the other hand, acting as your own attorney during these proceedings could be a costly error that results in the revocation of your driving privileges.
What Issues Could Come Up During the Hearing?
When you get your chance to dispute the suspension of your driving privileges, the court will not take up the question of your innocence or guilt. Instead, these hearings are crafted to narrowly consider whether or not revocation of your driving privileges are appropriate. Anything outside of the scope of these proceedings must be kept out of the administrative process and left to the criminal trial.
The law is clear on what is relevant in these hearings and what is not. Minnesota Statute Section 169A.5C sets out the issues that can be considered when your revocation is under review. These include:
- Did the peace officer have probable cause to believe the person was driving, operating, or in physical control of a motor vehicle or commercial motor vehicle?
- Was the person lawfully placed under arrest for driving while impaired?
- Was the person involved in a motor vehicle accident or collision resulting in property damage, personal injury, or death?
- Did the person refuse to take a screening test?
- If the screening test was administered, did the test indicate an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more?
- At the time of the request for the test, did the peace officer inform the person of the person’s rights and the consequences of taking or refusing the test?
- Did the person refuse to permit the test?
- If a test was taken by a person driving, operating, or in physical control of a motor vehicle, did the test results indicate at the time of testing:
- an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more; or
- the presence of a controlled substance listed in Schedule I or II or its metabolite, other than marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols?
- If a test was taken by a person driving, operating, or in physical control of a commercial motor vehicle, did the test results indicate an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more at the time of testing?
- Was the testing method used valid and reliable and were the test results accurately evaluated?
- Did the person prove the defense of necessity?
- Did the person prove the defense of controlled substance use in accordance with a prescription?
It is also important to note that winning a civil hearing does not guarantee a victory at trial. These are two separate proceedings, and what sways the civil hearing might not convince the judge in the criminal case. In fact, the ruling in the civil case has no impact whatsoever on the criminal charge.
How Long Will My Suspension Last in Minnesota?
The length of your license suspension will depend on many different factors. First and foremost, the number of your previous DWI convictions will play an important part in determining the length of your suspension. The baseline revocation periods that apply in these cases include:
- 1st offense. 90 days license revocation
- 2nd offense. One year license revocation
- 3rd offense. License canceled as “inimical to public safety”
- 4th or subsequent offense. License canceled as “inimical to public safety”
What’s more, there are other factors that could impact the length of your revocation. These factors are especially important for first and second offenses. If your BAC was .16 or higher at the time of your arrest, your suspension period can be extended. The same is true if there was a child in the vehicle at the time of your arrest. Finally, refusing to submit to a chemical test could also lead to a lengthier suspension.
For higher-level charges, you could be required to prove you are drug or alcohol-free for a number of years before you can have your license returned to you. What’s more, your only option for retaining your driving privileges might be through an ignition interlock device.
An interlock device requires you to blow into a tube attached to your steering wheel before starting your vehicle. Unless you register a 0.0 BAC, your car will not start.
Talk to Gerald Miller About Your DWI Arrest in Minnesota
There are many different ways an attorney could help you in the aftermath of a DWI arrest. If you are facing the threat of administrative suspension of your driving privileges, our attorneys could help you fight back.
The same is true for your criminal charges. The attorneys of Gerald Miller focus their work on advocating on behalf of those accused of criminal offenses. If you have been charged with a DWI, call right away to schedule your free consultation.
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