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24-Hour DUI Defense in Minneapolis: What You Need to Know

A DUI arrest can happen at any time. When you are facing these serious charges, you need legal assistance right away. Gerald Miller, P.A., has qualified Minneapolis DUI defense lawyers ready to take your call 24 hours a day. 

 

Don’t wait for law enforcement to build a case against you. Before answering any questions, call now!

Stopped for DUI: What Do You Have to Do?

Minnesota police officers can stop your vehicle if they have probable cause to suspect DUI. For example, if you are weaving between lanes, the erratic driving gives the police probable cause.

 

Also, if you are stopped for another legitimate reason, and the police see evidence of intoxication after pulling you over, they also have probable cause to suspect DUI.

 

What does it mean if the police have probable cause to suspect DUI?

 

Probable cause gives law enforcement the right to subject you to chemical testing. Without probable cause, any such test is inadmissible in court. In essence, the state can lose the case if the police officer fails to establish that he has probable cause to stop your vehicle and probable cause to subject you to a chemical test.

Do You Have to Blow Into a Handheld Breathalyzer?

After being stopped on suspicion of DUI in Minnesota, you may face pressure to blow into a handheld breathalyzer. You have the legal right to refuse.

 

The officer may claim that when you applied for your driver’s license, you automatically gave your implied consent to submit to chemical testing for alcohol or controlled substances. This is not true of handheld breathalyzers. The implied consent law applies only to the more reliable breathalyzer tests given at the police station or hospital or a blood test.

 

Courts prohibit the introduction of handheld breathalyzer tests as DUI evidence because they are notoriously inaccurate. They are only a Preliminary Breath Tests (PBT). If you blow over the legal limit, then the officer has probable cause to require more accurate chemical testing. 

 

Because they are inadmissible in court, you can refuse a handheld breathalyzer without automatically facing criminal penalties. However, refusing the PBT may give the officer probable cause to arrest you and require you to submit to a more accurate chemical test (e.g., breath, blood, or urine test) at the police station.

Do You Have to Take a Field Sobriety Test?

Field sobriety tests (FST) are a series of physical and cognitive exercises that law enforcement officers use during a traffic stop to help determine if a driver is impaired. They include the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, the walk-and-turn test, and the one-leg stand test.

 

According to Minnesota law, you are not legally required to take field sobriety tests. You can refuse to participate in these tests without facing automatic legal penalties like those associated with refusing a chemical test (e.g., breath, blood, or urine test) under implied consent laws.

 

However, refusing to take field sobriety tests may raise suspicion and potentially give the officer probable cause to arrest you for driving under the influence DUI. By establishing probable cause, the officer gains the right to subject you to the more accurate chemical testing available at the police station.

 

Taking the FST can pose problems in creating an effective DUI defense. The difficulty comes in when the chemical test is flawed and thrown out by the court or comes in below the legal limit. Without a chemical test result above the legal limit, the state needs alternative evidence to prove impairment. It can then use a poor FST showing as this alternative evidence.

What DUI Charges Can You Face in Minnesota?

Those charged with DUI in Minnesota may face fourth-, third-, second-, or first-degree DUI.

Fourth-Degree DUI 

Fourth-degree DUI is a misdemeanor offense and applies to first-time DWI offenders where no aggravating factors apply. To qualify as a first-time offender, you must have had no DUI convictions within the previous ten years. Aggravating factors include a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.16 or higher and having a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle. 

 

Sentences include up to 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and a possible driver’s license suspension.

 

Third-Degree DUI 

Third-degree DUI qualifies as a gross misdemeanor offense, which subjects the offender to increased penalties. This charge applies if you have one DUI conviction in the past ten years or another aggravating factor is involved.

 

Sentences include up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $3,000, and a driver’s license suspension or revocation.

Second-Degree DUI 

Second-degree DUI is also a gross misdemeanor offense. To qualify, two aggravating factors must be present. For instance, multiple previous DUI convictions or a previous DUI with a BAC over .16.

 

Sentences include up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $3,000, and a driver’s license revocation for up to two years.

First-Degree DUI 

First-degree DUI in Minnesota is a felony DUI. It applies to offenders who have three or more aggravating factors or who have a previous felony DWI or criminal vehicular operation conviction. 

 

Sentences include up to seven years in prison, a fine of up to $14,000, and a possible driver’s license cancellation.

Defenses Against a DUI Charge in Minnesota

Being charged with a DWI in Minnesota is a far cry from being convicted. Many cases are tainted by bad evidence or misrepresentations. A strong DUI defense lawyer can asset many defenses that lead to an acquittal, case dismissal, or reduced charge/

 

One common defense strategy is to challenge the legality of the traffic stop. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. A law enforcement officer must have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. For instance, erratic driving or a traffic violation. Alternatively, they may be able to argue that the vehicle was similar to the one they are seeking in another crime.

 

Regardless, the officer must have a valid reason to pull over a motorist. If the officer fails to justify the stop in court, the judge may throw out any evidence gathered during the stop, including breathalyzer results or field sobriety test results.

 

Another defense involves contesting the accuracy and administration of FSTs. FSTs are woefully subjective and often affected by external factors such as weather conditions, the driver’s physical condition, or nervousness. Even the type of shoes the driver was wearing can bias the results. If the defense can demonstrate that the tests were administered improperly or the results were interpreted incorrectly, the evidence may be deemed unreliable and hence dismissed.

 

The accuracy of a breathalyzer and other chemical tests can also be disputed. Breathalyzer machines require regular maintenance and calibration to provide accurate results. A skilled defense attorney will demand maintenance and calibration records during discovery for the specific breathalyzer used. 

 

Often, this discovery yields evidence that the device was improperly maintained or calibrated, making the test results inadmissible in court. The inability of the prosecution to use this evidence may end the case.

 

Additionally, certain medical conditions or medications can impact the results of breathalyzer tests, resulting in a false positive.  For instance, GERD can bias the results.

 

The defense can also argue that the officer lacked proper training or made errors in administering the breathalyzer test. In Minnesota, law enforcement officers must follow specific procedures when administering a breathalyzer test. Failure to adhere to these protocols may render the results inadmissible. If the prosecution lacks additional evidence of impairment, this may end the case.

 

In rare situations, it may be possible to argue that the driver had a valid reason for driving while impaired, known as a “necessity” defense”. The defense must show that the driver had no other choice but to drive in order to prevent worse harm. For instance, the intoxicated person has no choice but to rush a heart attack victim to the hospital.

 

Another defense is based on the “improper police actions” defense. This can include a wide range of misconduct, including tampering with evidence or lying about the events leading to the arrest. Police misconduct may establish reasonable doubt. After all, if the evidence was good, why would the police need to cheat? Too often, law enforcement engages in improper police actions to bolster a weak case.

 

Gerald Miller, P.A. provides expert DUI defense lawyers in Minneapolis, offering 24/7 legal assistance. Don’t wait. Call now.

 

Gerald Miller, P.A., understands the importance of immediate legal aid in the face of DUI charges. The sooner a lawyer is involved, the better the chance of the state failing to gather enough evidence to win the case.

 

In case you are stopped for DUI, it’s important to understand that you can refuse handheld breathalyzers and field sobriety tests. They are considered unreliable by the courts. But a refusal may lead to probable cause for arrest and more accurate chemical testing. In that case, the success of the state’s case hinges on chemical testing. Minnesota’s implied consent law requires licensed drivers to submit to chemical tests at the police station or hospital.

 

In court, we can assert many defenses, including lack of probable cause and a necessity for lawful police stops. Additionally, chemical testing evidence may be tainted or improperly collected. Other defenses include necessity, improper police actions, and the presence of certain medical conditions. These strategies can lead to an acquittal, case dismissal, or a reduced charge.

 

DUI charges in Minnesota range from misdemeanor fourth-degree DUIs to felony first-degree DUIs, with penalties escalating based on previous convictions, blood alcohol concentration, and the presence of a minor in the vehicle.

Don’t take chances with your future. Get the best DWI defense in Minnesota with Gerald Miller, P.A.

 

Related Content: The Consequences of a DWI Conviction in Minneapolis


About the author

Gerald Miller

Gerald Miller is a top-notch and experienced DWI/DUI lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. in Minneapolis, MN. He has more than 35 years of experience in Criminal Defense practice. He has also been a mentor to numerous DUI/DWI defense attorneys.

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