Is There a Law Against Hungover Driving in Minnesota?
Everyone is aware of the fact that it is illegal to drive in Minnesota while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. State law is clear on what qualifies as driving while impaired (DWI) and prosecutors have several options for making a DWI case.
The concept “hungover driving” is not so clearly defined. While the term refers to feeling unwell after drinking too much alcohol the day before, the concept of a hangover is not recognized by state law. For that reason, there is no law against hungover driving.
The important thing to consider is that you could still have some alcohol in your bloodstream the morning after a long night of drinking. In those cases, you could be more than just hungover should you get behind the wheel. If you have been stopped and arrested under suspicion of hungover driving while impaired in Minnesota, now is the right time to speak to the attorneys of Gerald Miller.
What is a Hangover?
A hangover could involve a number of symptoms related to the consumption of alcohol. Typically, the term hangover is used to describe these symptoms that occur the day after substantial amounts of alcohol are consumed. The symptoms of a hangover can vary substantially. Some of these symptoms could include:
- Muscle aches
- Stomach pain
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- High blood pressure
While these symptoms are unpleasant, they differ from intoxication. Even if you feel unwell in the day that follows heavy drinking, that does not mean you are prevented by law from operating a motor vehicle.
What Leads To Hangover Symptoms in Minnesota?
There are numerous factors that can contribute to hangover symptoms. These symptoms are not entirely a product of alcohol consumption, as you general health and other lifestyle choices could limit or extend your hangover symptoms in some cases. These contributing factors could include:
- Sleep disruptions. Alcohol might make you fall asleep faster, but that sleep is often disrupted. This can lead to fatigue the following day.
- Inflammation. Alcohol can cause inflammation in the body. This inflammation can lead directly to a general feeling of unease.
- Dehydration. Alcohol can interfere with the signals your brain sends to your kidneys, which can lead to excess fluid loss. The resulting dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches, or extreme thirst.
- Gastrointestinal issues. Alcohol can irritate the lining of the stomach and increase the release of acid in your intestines. This can result in stomach discomfort or nausea.
Hangover symptoms can last for up to 24 hours after your blood alcohol concentration returns to zero. The factors described above could not only impact the severity of the symptoms but also how long it takes for them to clear up.
Can a Hangover Violate Minnesota DWI Laws?
The symptoms that come with a hangover are not enough to rise to the level of a DWI. However, it is not unusual for a person that believes they are hungover to actually still be under the influence of alcohol from the night before. In that situation, an arrest or conviction for DWI could be possible.
Ultimately, the same standards will apply whether a driver is simply hungover or still impaired. The state is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were hungover driving, and there are many ways they could do that.
Understanding Minnesota DWI Laws
In Minnesota, the crime of DWI is governed by statute. That statute can be found at Minnesota Statutes Section 169A.20. According to the law, it is unlawful for a person to driver, operate, or be in physical control of any motor vehicle.
- 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 tetrahydrocannabinols.
If a hungover driver still has alcohol in their system when they are stopped by police, there is little doubt that they could face an arrest for DWI. However, there are circumstances that could lead to a DWI arrest even if a motorist does not have a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit. This is especially possible in cases where a motorist refuses to submit to a chemical test.
Does being hungover qualify as being “under the influence” of alcohol. Under the law, it does not. If alcohol is no longer in your system it will not impact your coordination or reaction time in a way that impacts your ability to drive.
Of course, the police have the ability to make an arrest even when the evidence that you are impaired is weak. While you might beat the charges later on in the process, you could still face an arrest if your hangover appears to interfere with your ability to drive. Your best option is to avoid getting behind the wheel if you feel unable to operate your vehicle safely.
How to Defend a Hungover DWI Case in Minnesota
If you have been arrested on suspicion of DWI, you have several options for fighting back. You should never assume your arrest will result in a conviction, as our firm has been successful in prevailing in DWI cases throughout the state. You have different defense strategies available to you, and our team could work with you to determine the best option for your case. Some of the common defense strategies include:
- Actual innocence. In some cases, the strongest defense is simply maintaining your innocent. It is up to the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you have committed a crime, and if they cannot do so you are entitled to an acquittal.
- Challenging the stop. One of the most common defenses to a DWI charge is challenging the legality of the police stop. The police do not have the right to pull you over for any reason they can think of. Without witnessing you commit a traffic violation or having reasonable suspicion you committed a crime, they cannot stop your car. If they stop you illegally, any evidence they collect could be thrown out at trial.
- Challenging the test. If you submitted a blood, breath, or urine test, the state is obligated to collect and test the sample in a certain way. If they violate these requirements, they could contaminate your sample in a way that causes a false result. It is possible to exclude these test results at trial in some cases.
Building a defense strategy on your own is risky. The prosecutor handling your case has likely pursued countless other DWI arrests, giving them a significant advantage in experience. Our attorneys are prepared to leverage our experience to give you the best defense possible in your case. We will work tirelessly in our pursuit if a fair outcome to your case. Call the attorneys of Gerald Miller today to get started.
Talk to the Attorneys of Gerald Miller About Your DWI Arrest in Minnesota
While there is no such thing as hungover driving, it is possible that you could face DWI charges the morning after a long night of drinking. It is important to take these charges seriously, as the consequences for a conviction could be steep. The attorneys of Gerald Miller are ready to help you fight for a favorable outcome to your case. Call right away to schedule your free consultation.