Minneapolis DWI Defense: Protect Your Rights Today
Driving under the influence kills. It’s as simple as that. Additionally, many victims of DUI crashes suffer severe injuries with long-term and lifelong implications. As a result, state legislatures nationwide continue to strengthen DUI laws and stiffen penalties. With these new laws come tougher challenges for those facing DWI charges. DWI defense has become more complex than ever before, as prosecutors continue to push for harsher sentences and more aggressive enforcement.
While this may be in the general public’s interest, too many drivers are wrongfully charged and suffer the consequences. Contrary to common perceptions, breathalyzers and blood tests are not like DNA crime scene matches. These tests are woefully prone to error and have innate margins for error. A test of .08 or above may give the police the right to file charges, but they do not lead to a slam dunk case in court.
Additionally, law enforcement brings cases against people despite having blood alcohol content (BAC) below .08 based on accusations that the driver appears impaired. This subjective characterization often fails to pass court scrutiny.
Furthermore, people face charges when they have had nothing to drink at all. Police use dubious evidence to claim impairment resulting from prescription medications, over-the-counter cold cures, and illegal drugs the suspect does not possess.
Overzealous police and prosecutors, caught up in the frenzy to fight DUI, overstep and subject innocent people to criminal jeopardy.
Those facing DUI charges need expert legal counsel. Your Minnesota DUI lawyer will analyze the evidence against you and determine what proofs are admissible and what proofs are unlawful and suspect.
Without a strong defense, the prosecution sees you as an easy mark. They can go for the maximum to look tough on DUI. But what if you weren’t impaired? Then you need a powerful DUI defense lawyer on your side.
Strong Defenses Against DUI Charges in Minneapolis
Many strong DUI defenses can result in pre-trial case dismissals and acquittals:
Illegal Traffic Stop
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures. This civil right extends to traffic stops. The police cannot legally stop motorists without probable cause. They must have a basis for a reasonable suspicion that a crime may be occurring.
A reasonable basis does not mean they need stand up in court proof to conduct a traffic stop. Many times, the police see a driver swerve and quite rightly suspect he may be impaired.
However, in some cases, there is another explanation for the swerve, such as trying to avoid a bump, a momentary lapse of attention, an inexperienced driver, a mechanical issue, avoiding a squirrel, and many other explanations that have nothing to do with alcohol or drugs.
The matter at hand in court is whether the police officer has a valid reason to suspect that you have broken the law. In addition to seeing a driver swerve and suspecting impairment, the police can lawfully make a traffic stop if the driver is exceeding the speed limit, runs a stop sign, or has an observable mechanical problem, such as a non-functioning tail light.
Police officers can also make a stop legally if they have reason to suspect a crime other than DUI or a traffic violation may be occurring. Even if the officer’s original suspicion turns out to be false, the traffic stop is legal, so if the driver happened to be drunk, he could not get the case thrown out based on the Fourth Amendment. The police discovered the DUI incidental to a lawful traffic stop for another reason.
For example, suppose the police spot a vehicle that has been reported stolen. They execute a traffic stop, find the driver is impaired,, and make an arrest. However, an inquiry with the rental agency that owns the car reveals that the vehicle was erroneously reported stolen.
The driver legally rented the vehicle, so the traffic stop resulted from a misunderstanding. However, it was still legal, so there is no fourth amendment defense, and the prosecution can win provided they prove impairment.
In many cases, the police have grounds for the traffic stop but not all. Some police officers stop drivers for illegal reasons, such as racial profiling. Other times, they stop vehicles based on thinly veiled excuses that violate Fourth Amendment protections.
For example, an officer may claim that he observed a DUI suspect’s vehicle swerve. However, when the defense attorney reviews a video of the traffic stop, the vehicle is driving perfectly straight.
A DWI Defense lawyer may seek a dismissal of this case based on the Fourth Amendment. The officer cannot simply say he saw a vehicle swerve and pull it over. He needs to see it swerve in a way that leads to a reasonable suspicion of impairment. Based on the video and cross-examining the officer, a defense lawyer may raise a reasonable doubt as to whether true probable cause existed and win a dismissal.
Some DUI prosecutions hinge on the suspect’s outward signs that the police claim proves DUI. For example, they may stop a motorist and observe he has trouble balancing, slurs his speech, has watery eyes, and appears to have trouble staying awake.
These are signs consistent with intoxication, but they do not, in isolation, prove DUI. The state must develop other proofs of intoxication because these signs can indicate something different from an impairment, such as symptoms of a medical condition.
For example, many neurological conditions have symptoms that mimic alcohol use. Additionally, some people have conditions that make them appear drunk while taking a field sobriety test because their balance is affected. Even a condition as benign as ankle tendonitis can make it impossible for a person to stand on one foot or walk in a straight line. Even simply being tired after a long day at work can cause a person to have signs that appear like intoxication.
DWI Defense attorneys win many cases based on a medical condition being mischaracterized as impairment. Therefore, never assume that you should plead guilty to a DUI charge if you have a medical condition that may have been mistaken for signs of intoxication. Consult an expert DWI Defense lawyer to learn if you have a viable DWI Defense.
Improper Interrogation Techniques in Minneapolis
You have the right to remain silent.
The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees this right, and if you are suspected of DUI, you are well-advised to use it.
Police officers do not ask idle questions. They seek to develop evidence against you. This may include getting you to make a statement that helps them justify probable cause when they lack it. Also, they may get you to admit you were coming from a bar, restaurant, or club that serves alcohol. Also, they may hope you will admit to an amount of recent drinking that would result in a BAC over the legal limit.
Additionally, some police officers misconstrue suspect statements to make them sound like admissions.
Therefore, the best course of action is to remain silent. Refrain from giving in to the pressure from the police to talk. Whatever they say, your exercise of the Fifth Amendment cannot be used against you in court. If you give up this right, you lose the ability to exclude evidence based on your statements.
Once you tell the officer you want a lawyer, he must cease all questioning. However, the police can still use any spontaneous statements you make, so say nothing.
Additionally, the police must inform a suspect when he is actually under arrest and inform the subject of his Miranda rights, which include the following:
- The right to remain silent
- That anything the suspect says could be used against them in court
- That the suspect has a right to a lawyer
A failure to inform a suspect of his Miranda rights can become a big deal in a DWI Defense. It can form the basis for your lawyer to motion for the exclusion of the evidence upon which the prosecution relies, resulting in the dismissal of the case.
The Right to Refuse Field Sobriety- and Portable Breathalyzer Testing
Minnesota law allows you to refuse to take a field sobriety and portable breathalyzer test. It is advisable to refuse these tests, as they can be admitted as evidence against you.
Portable breathalyzer tests are known to be highly inaccurate. For that reason, drivers in Minnesota can refuse them. Additionally, field sobriety tests are also known to provide false positives. A person may have difficulty balancing for many reasons other than impairment.
Implied Consent Requires You to Take a Breathalyzer or Blood Test at the Police Station or Hospital
Refusal of a portable breathalyzer or field sobriety test does not mean Minnesota drivers can refuse chemical testing. Instead, the police are likely to transport the suspect to the police station or hospital, where they can access more reliable chemical testing methods.
Minnesota’s implied consent law requires drivers to submit to these tests. Refusal to take them can result in a criminal conviction, loss of driving privileges, and jail time, depending on the circumstances.
However, these tests are not infallible. There are margins for error, and the time between the traffic stop and the test may leave reasonable doubt. For example, reaching the legal limit requires time for the body to absorb the alcohol. In many cases, the driver was under the legal limit at the time of the traffic stop and tested over .08 only because his body had more time to process the alcohol while waiting for the test.
Many DUI cases are built on shaky foundations. For example, the evidence may have been obtained illegally, the chemical tests flawed, or signs of a medical condition misrepresented as signs of intoxication.
Never assume you will be convicted. As with other criminal charges, DUI suspects enjoy the presumption of innocence. The state must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and often fails.
Contact Gerald Miller, P.A., for an expert DWI Defense Attorney.
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