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What You Need to Know When facing a DWI in Minnesota

If you have been arrested under suspicion of driving while impaired (DWI) in Minnesota, there are several things you should know. Facing an arrest can be worrying, but it is not time to give up.

The right DWI defense attorney could help you fight back against these charges. With the right defense strategy, you could avoid a conviction or resolve your case in a favorable way. Getting the outcome you prefer requires that you actively take steps to strengthen your case.

The attorneys of Gerald Miller have an outstanding record of fighting DWI charges and winning. Our firm understands what goes into a strong defense, and we are ready to help you fight back. Reach out right away for your free consultation.

The Penalties for DWI Can Be Steep

You could be looking at serious consequences for a DWI conviction. If you are found guilty of the offense, you risk jail time, fines, license suspension, and other consequences that could last a lifetime. Your penalties largely depend on the number of previous convictions you have in the past 10 years.

First Offense

Most people that are convicted of their first DWI will not face additional time in jail following their arrest. However, this conviction an lead to as much as 90 days in jail, a fine of $3,000, or a combination of the two. If your BAC is at .16 or higher, you could face up to a year in jail and a fine of no more than $3,000.

Second Offense

A second DWI is still a misdemeanor, and it also carries a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and a fine of $1,000. However, there are minimum mandatory penalties associated with a second conviction. It is also possible to face up to a year in jail if your BAC was twice the legal limit.

Third Offense

A third conviction in ten years is also a misdemeanor offense. However, this offense always carries a maximum of one year in jail and a fine of no more than $3,000. This offense also has the highest minimum penalty of any misdemeanor DWI.

Felony DWI

After enough prior convictions, DWI offenses are treated as felonies in Minnesota. A felony conviction is serious and can lead to years behind bars and thousands of dollars in fines. Felony DWI could lead to as much as seven years in prison, a fine of $14,000, or a combination of the two.

Your Conviction is Never Guaranteed

The penalties for a conviction might be steep, but it is important to remember that a conviction is never certain. You have the right to mount a defense in your case. Frequently, these defenses result in favorable outcomes at trial, reasonable plea bargains, or even dismissal by the prosecution.

The key to avoiding a conviction in your DWI case is a strong defense strategy. There are countless defense strategies in criminal law, but two are especially common in DWI cases. These strategies involve challenging the legality of the police stop or the admissibility of chemical tests.

Challenging the Stop

For the most part, DWI arrests occur as part of traffic stops. In these cases, the police generally pull over a driver, suspect impairment, and eventually make an arrest based on the evidence they gather. However, the police cannot pull over drivers without a good reason.

Every motorist protected by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. The Fourth Amendment protects against unlawful searches and seizures. If the police make a traffic stop without legal grounds to do so, they are in violation of the amendment.

The consequences of an unlawful search or seizure are significant. Any evidence the police recover during or after the stop will be excluded from trial. If the police pull you over without a valid reason, your attorney could have any evidence recovered excluded on constitutional grounds. This could include admissions of drinking or even the results of a breath test.

Refusing a Breath Test is a Crime

There are several ways the state can prove impairment in a DWI case. The most commonly-used method by the state involves evidence that you operated a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. Proving that your BAC was over the limit involves submitting to blood, breath, or urine testing.

These tests are only accurate when the are performed and analyzed appropriately. That means if the police or a crime lab technician fails to follow protocol, the results of your test could show a false positive. For that reason, the failure to follow protocol could result in the exclusion of your test results at trial.

Blood, breath, or urine test results are often the key evidence the state has against you. If your attorney can have those results thrown out, your chances of acquittal are much higher.

Refusing Field Sobriety Tests is not a Crime

There are consequences that come with refusing a breath, blood, or urine test following a DWI arrest. The same is not true when it comes to the standardized field sobriety tests offered roadside by the police. These tests are little more than unscientific exercises, and the law does not require that you submit to them.

There is never a good reason to agree to field sobriety tests. In general, the police rely on three common test: the walk-and-turn test, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, and the one-legged stand. Each test has certain markers the police look for that are supposedly indicators of impairment.

Unfortunately, these indicators can also mean something else. You might stumble on the walk-and-turn because of loose gravel or dim lighting. Your could register as impaired on the horizontal gaze nystagmus test due to medical conditions. These tests are designed to lead to a conviction, and you are not obligated to perform them.

You Do Not Have to Discuss Your Arrest with Police

If you have been arrested by the police under suspicion of DWI, you can count on them asking you question. These questions might start at the side of the road where the arrest happened, continue as they transport you to the police station, and only end after you have submitted to a breath test and are booked into jail. While you do have to provide certain details to the police like your name and address, you are under no obligation to discuss your arrest at all. In fact, it is best if you don’t talk about anything with the police.

You have the right to remain silent thanks to the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution. The police cannot force you to answer questions about your case. This is important, as anything you say voluntarily can be used against you at trial.

The questions the police ask are tailored to provide evidence of your guilt. Admitting that you were drinking or that you have an open container in the car can be enough to convict you in some cases. You should know that you are under no obligation to discuss any of this with the police.

You Have the Right to an Attorney

It is also important to remember that you do not have to face the challenge of a criminal trial on your own. You are entitled to an attorney, and the law guarantees you legal representation if you cannot afford it.

Of course, you are more likely to put forward a strong defense with the help of a private attorney. Hiring legal counsel that can focus their time and effort on your case could be the best option for securing the fair outcome that you deserve.

Talk to Gerald Miller About Your DWI Case

Facing criminal charges after a DWI arrest is never easy. There are a lot of things to consider in a DWI case, but the first decision you should make is the attorney that you hire.

The attorneys of Gerald Miller understand the DWI process. We have extensive experience defending the accused in these cases, and we are proud of our track record of success. Let our firm serve as your advocates and build the defense you deserve. Contact us as soon as possible for your free consultation.

Related Content: What Happens When You Get a DWI in Minneapolis?

About the author

Tyler Dahlen

Tyler weaves legal expertise with unwavering compassion in his criminal defense practice. Each case becomes a personal crusade, uncovering the human story beneath the headlines and crafting meticulous strategies that challenge the system and fight for a second chance. His relentless pursuit of justice in even the most complex DWI cases has earned him a reputation as a champion for the underdog, a voice for the unheard, and a beacon of hope in the face of adversity.

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