This is the second installment in our two part blog post discussing drunk driving misconceptions surrounding DWI prosecutions in Minnesota. While we have tried to address some of the more common myths about DWI, we invite you to contact the Minnesota DWI attorneys at Gerald Miller, P.A. if you have questions specific to your situation.
Drunk Driving Misconceptions Debunked
Myth 4: There is no reason to retain a Minnesota DWI lawyer because field sobriety tests and chemical BAC tests are scientific evidence that cannot really be disputed.
Although a police officer or prosecutor might attempt to cloak field sobriety tests (FSTs) or chemical testing of breath, blood, or urine in scientific terms, these forms of evidence provide nothing close to scientific reliability.
The three FSTs approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) individually have a false positive error rate as high as 20 to 30 percent. Further, the tests often are performed by inadequately trained officers under conditions that make the likelihood of a poor performance even higher.
Many factors also can compromise the reliability of chemical testing ranging from improper calibration of a breath testing device to contamination of a blood sample caused by use of an alcohol swab at the injection site.
The bottom line is that an experienced Minnesota DWI attorney understands how to expose the weaknesses associated with the pseudo-science behind evidence presented in drunk driving prosecutions.
Myth 5: Drivers with high tolerance levels can drive safely after a night of drinking.
Drunk driving misconceptions about people who have a high tolerance, referred to as “functional tolerance”, are also very common. This does not mean that their BAC is lower than a person of similar gender and weight who consumes the same amount of alcohol.
The high tolerance individual might have less sensitivity to the effects of alcohol, but this is merely a behavioral adaptation without any relationship to the way the liver metabolizes alcohol in a person’s body.
Since a DWI arrest can be based solely on BAC level, the ability of a driver to “handle” his or her alcohol does not make it safe to drive while intoxicated.
Myth 6: I cannot be arrested for DWI because I was not driving.
Many people assume that they cannot be arrested for DWI if their vehicle is not moving. However, Minnesota law only requires a driver to be in “actual physical control” of a motor vehicle. This phrase generally means that a person has the ability to initiate movement of the vehicle while in close proximity to the operating controls.
Minnesota courts have construed “actual physical control’ to encompass situations where an intoxicated motorist in a parked vehicle could start the vehicle without much difficulty. The phrase is construed broadly but does not include simply being in the proximity of a vehicle.
Myth 7: My DWI charge must be dismissed because I was operating a motorboat.
It is easy to believe drunk driving misconceptions about DWI’s when operating non-traditional motor vehicles that don’t navigate roadways like cars, trucks, or motorcycles. Minnesota law does extend to several different types of recreational vehicles.
Convictions for DWI might result from operating a snowmobile, boat, or other unconventional motorized modes of transportation while intoxicated. However, Minnesota does not extend DWI law to the riding of bicycles like some other states.
Myth 8: My BAC test revealed I was below the legal limit of .08 percent, so I cannot be charged with a DWI.
While a person can be convicted of DWI with a .08 percent BAC without evidence that the motorist’s driving ability was impaired, this does not mean that a driver can be convicted ONLY with a BAC above this legal threshold.
Even if you have a BAC below .08, the prosecutor will rely on observations by the officer prior to and during the stop, field sobriety testing, incriminating statements, witness testimony, and other evidence in order to prove you were impaired, regardless of how much alcohol or drugs you actually had in your system.
Legal Counsel is Critical to Success
If you have been arrested for driving while impaired, don’t be fooled by these drunk driving misconceptions. We invite you to speak to a Minnesota DWI Attorney at Gerald Miller, P.A. as soon as possible.
The sooner you contact us the sooner we can start protecting your rights. Contact us today to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.