Impaired Driving Laws and Consequences in Minnetonka
The most common reason for criminal arrests in Minnetonka involves allegations of driving while impaired (DWI). State DWI laws are strictly enforced, and the consequences that come with a conviction for this offense could alter your life forever.
Understanding these laws and consequences can be important if you have been arrested for DWI. As part of developing a strong defense, it is important to understand the grounds the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
Do not face the prosecutors on your own. The state will not hesitate to aggressively pursue a conviction in your case regardless of your innocence or guilt. Now is the time to protect your rights with the help of strong legal counsel. Call the attorneys of Gerald Miller today to learn more.
Understanding Impaired Driving Laws in Minnetonka
There are numerous laws that regulate drinking and driving in Minnetonka. In addition to the laws that prohibit DWI, there are also secondary statutes like implied consent laws. Each of these statutes works together during the course of a DWI case.
Impaired Driving Laws
There are two major elements the prosecution must prove to secure a conviction under Minnetonka DWI laws. First, the state must show that you were driving, operating, or in physical control of a vehicle. In other words, it is possible to secure a DWI conviction in cases where you are not driving a vehicle. Physical control is a subjective term, but it typically involves having the means to drive a vehicle at a moment’s notice. That often includes being in the front seat of the vehicle while having the keys in your possession.
There is also an element related to impairment in these cases. The state must show that the driver was impaired by drugs or alcohol at the time they were driving or in control of a vehicle. The law provides the state with seven different options for proving impairment, but they only need to rely on one of them. These options include:
- the person is under the influence of alcohol;
- the person is under the influence of a controlled substance;
- the person is under the influence of an intoxicating substance and the person knows or has reason to know that the substance has the capacity to cause impairment;
- the person is under the influence of a combination of any two or more of the elements named in clauses (1) to (3);
- the person’s alcohol concentration at the time, or as measured within two hours of the time, of driving, operating, or being in physical control of the motor vehicle is 0.08 or more;
- the vehicle is a commercial motor vehicle and the person’s alcohol concentration at the time, or as measured within two hours of the time, of driving, operating, or being in physical control of the commercial motor vehicle is 0.04 or more; or
- the person’s body contains any amount of a controlled substance listed in Schedule I or II, or its metabolite, other than marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinol.
Implied Consent Law
Like all cities, Minnetonka has adopted something known as “implied consent” laws. The implied consent law holds that any person that operates, drives, or is in physical control of a motor vehicle anywhere within the city of Minnetonka has given their implied consent to give blood, breath, or urine samples for the purpose of determining if they are impaired. This law applies even if a motorist is unaware of the law’s existence.
It is important to note that the police cannot demand you submit to chemical testing without a reason. Implied consent laws only apply when an officer has probable cause to believe a driver is impaired. To establish probable cause, an officer could witness:
- A driver with alcohol on their breath during a traffic stop,
- Erratic driving like weaving over the center line, or
- A failure on standardized field sobriety tests.
There are consequences that come with non-compliance. If a person refuses to submit to chemical testing, the police can arrest that person and pursue additional testing options. Refusal is also a criminal charge itself. If convicted of this gross misdemeanor, you could face as much as one year in jail and a fine of $3,000. This is in addition to any penalties that are handed down for a DWI conviction.
Vehicle Forfeiture Laws
In certain circumstances, the law allows for prosecutors to seek the forfeiture of property that was used in the commission of a crime. In DWI cases, this can include the vehicle a person was driving when they were arrested under suspicion of driving while impaired.
The arresting officer in a DWI case has the discretion on whether or not to seek forfeiture. This is often done at the time of the arrest. Civil forfeiture is handled administratively, meaning it does not take place during the criminal trial.
There is a process for disputing the forfeiture, especially if the owner of the vehicle is not the person charged with DWI. This begins with a notice requirement set out in Minnetonka Statute Section 169A.63. According to the statute, the following notice must be provided:
WARNING: If you have an ownership interest in the above-described property and were not the person arrested when the property was seized, you will automatically lose the above-described property and the right to be heard in court if you do not notify the prosecuting authority of your interest in writing within 60 days.
Consequences of a DWI Conviction in Minnetonka
There are varying consequences that come with a conviction for DWI. The extent of your penalties will depend on a few factors, but the most important one is your prior criminal history. If you have recent DWI convictions on your record, you can expect the penalties from a subsequent conviction to be stiffer. In total, there are different categories of DWI offenses. These offenses could be misdemeanors or felonies depending on the number of aggravating factors that are present.
Each conviction carries certain penalties. These penalties include jail time, fines, the suspension of your license, and even collateral consequences. Our firm could help you work to minimize or eliminate each of these penalties.
- Incarceration. First-time offenders typically face up to 90 days in jail for a DWI conviction. For a felony conviction, you could be sentenced to as much as 7 years in state prison.
- Fines. The fines for a DWI conviction also vary. You could face thousands of dollars in fines following a conviction.
- License Suspension. There are also administrative license suspensions that come with a DWI case. Our firm could defend you in criminal court while also assisting you with your administrative case.
- Collateral Consequences. Collateral consequences are the consequences of a criminal conviction that do not stem directly from the criminal statute. These consequences are often societal and cannot be reduced through a plea bargain. The most common example is the loss of employment.
Reducing the Impact of a Conviction
The ultimate goal for anyone charged with DWI is avoiding a conviction. However, there are cases when that outcome is unlikely. Even when a conviction is a likely outcome, our firm could help reduce or eliminate some of the penalties associated with a DWI case in Minnetonka.
In some cases, our firm could help you negotiate a plea bargain that keeps you from spending any additional time behind bars. Alternatively, we could negotiate a plea bargain that limits your fines or other financial consequences.
There are also options under the law that could allow you to plead guilty but eventually avoid a conviction. This is possible when the court defers your sentencing to allow you to complete a number of goals set by the judge. An attorney could advise you if this is an option in your case.
Talk to an Attorney About Your DWI Case in Minnetonka
If you are convicted of DWI in Minnetonka, you could be facing serious consequences that will impact your life for years to come. While the law sets out the grounds for a conviction, it also provides grounds for a viable defense in your case.
The attorneys of Gerald Miller are prepared to aggressively pursue justice in your case. If you are ready to discuss your defense options, now is the time to reach out. Call us for a free consultation right away.
Related Content: Minnesota’s Impaired Driving Laws, Penalties, and Fines