For many people, a DWI arrest results in a night in jail followed by a release in the morning. This is especially true for many first-time offenders. While the police have the power to release many people charged with DWI on their own recognizance following an arrest, there are certain situations where Minnesota law requires bail.
The amount of bail required in a case varies depending on the charge. As seasoned Minnesota DWI Defense lawyers, we know that for misdemeanors, bail is only mandatory under certain circumstances. For felonies, not only is bail mandatory but there is no maximum amount of bail set under state law.
Dealing with issues of bail is only one way your DWI defense attorney could help you. During the course of your DWI case, your attorney could work to get your case dismissed and fight to ensure you are released pending trial. To discuss how an attorney could maximize your chance of a favorable outcome, contact the attorneys at Gerald Miller right away.
What Is Bail?
Most people do not spend the entire time from arrest to trial in custody. In many cases, the court or even the police have the power to release individuals from jail on their own recognizance with little more than a promise to appear at their court dates.
In other cases, the court can set varying requirements a defendant must meet before they are released from jail. One of those requirements is bail. Bail is an amount of money deposited with the court to secure a person’s release from jail. If that person subsequently attends all court dates and complies with the court’s other orders, they will ultimately have their bail money refunded. Should they miss a court date, however, the bail money is forfeit and the judge could order the defendant returned to jail.
In Minnesota, there are two types of bonds: cash or surety. A cash bond involves the defendant simply handing over enough cash to the court to cover bail. Individuals that lack the funds to pay their full bail amount could turn to surety bonds. A surety bond is paid by a bail bondsman. Typically, the bondsman charges a fee to front the person’s bail. For further explanation of the two, it is best to consult a qualified Minnesota DWI Defense attorney.
Article 1, Section 5 of the Minnesota Constitution bans excessive bail. While the state constitution does not expand on what makes bail excessive, courts generally hold excessive bail to mean an amount that is higher than necessary to ensure a defendant will appear for their court dates.
Conditional vs. Unconditional Bail
Any Minnesota DWI Defense attorney will confirm that Minnesota differs from many other states in that the law allows a judge to offer a defendant different options for bail. In some cases, the judge will set two bail amounts: a lower amount for conditional bail and a higher amount for unconditional bail.
Conditional bail, as the name suggests, comes with conditions outside of the payment of the bail amount. Some conditions are simple, like the requirement to make your court appearances or stay in contact with your attorney. Others can be more specific, like random drug and alcohol tests.
Unconditional bail comes with fewer requirements. The tradeoff is that the amount of unconditional bail is higher. In some cases, the court will set two amounts and let the defendant choose which option they would prefer.
Minimum Bail for Minnesota DWI Charges
Often, law enforcement will release someone charged with a DWI on their own recognizance once they are no longer intoxicated. That said, Minnesota law prevents this practice in some DWI cases. Under certain circumstances, a defendant in a DWI case faces mandatory bail.
Minnesota State Statute 169A.44 sets mandatory bail-in DWI cases under several circumstances. These mandatory amounts can serve either as the lower amount of conditional bail or the maximum amount for unconditional bail. The court does not have the discretion to order a defendant’s release should they not meet these mandatory bail requirements.
A Minnesota DWI Defense attorney will explain to you that there are a number of factors that can trigger mandatory bail in a DWI case. These factors include:
- A second degree or higher DWI charge
- A defendant alleged to have a BAC greater than 0.16
- A third or subsequent DWI offense for a driver under the age of 19
- The presence of a child under 16 as well as a prior DWI conviction
- The DWI occurred while the driver’s license was canceled as inimical to public safety
According to state law, bail is generally capped at double the maximum available fine for a particular offense. For example, that limits a misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $1,000 to bail of no more than $2,000.
Like with most things, there are some exceptions to these rules. One of those exceptions is arrests related to DWI charges. In those cases, bail may be as much as four times the maximum fine in a particular case.
Bail for Felony DWI
Unlike with misdemeanor cases, there is no set multiplier used to calculate maximum bail for a felony DWI. While there is no set cap on bail for a first degree DWI, that does not mean bail is limitless. When setting bail in a felony case, the court must still comply with the constitutional requirement of access to reasonable bail.
In felony cases, the court is more likely to seek extensive use of conditional bail. Some common conditions used in these cases are mandatory drug or alcohol testing. Judges also routinely order defendants to avoid drugs or alcohol as well as places where these things are readily available.
Let a Minnesota DWI Defense Lawyer Advise You
Making bail is only the first step in getting your life together after a DWI arrest. Even in cases involving serious DWI charges, the right lawyer could help you secure your release from jail and allow you to return to your regular life to some degree.
The Minnesota DWI Defense attorneys at Gerald Miller are experienced in arguing for reasonable bail for their clients. If you are ready to discuss the possibility of bail and your defense options in general, schedule a free consultation with Gerald Miller right away on (612) 405-5522.