Minneapolis DWI Facts You Should Know About
If you have been arrested under suspicion of driving while impaired (DWI) in Minneapolis, you probably have a lot of questions. Your freedom is at stake, and the criminal justice system could be very unfamiliar to you. Understanding the facts regarding DWI cases in Minneapolis could go a long way to preparing you for what comes next.
Understanding the basics of a DWI case is important, but the most vital thing to your case is the guidance of an experienced attorney. You deserve legal counsel that has extensive experience with taking on the prosecutor in DWI cases and winning.
The attorneys of Gerald Miller know what it takes to beat a DWI charge. We have aggressively pursued a favorable outcome in these cases, and have secured dismissals and acquittals for our clients. Reach out to the attorneys of Gerald Miller as soon as possible to get started with your defense strategy.
Fact #1: You can Be Charged with DWI Without Driving
The name of the offense might be “driving while impaired,” but the state could secure a conviction even if you were not driving. This is because the statute that governs DWI in Minnesota—Minnesota Statute 169A.20—broadly defines what can lead to a DWI conviction.
According to the statute, you could be convicted of DWI if you are driving, operating, or in physical control of a motor vehicle. There is little doubt what qualifies as driving or operating a vehicle. However, the term “in physical control” dramatically expands the situations where you could be arrested for DWI.
To be in physical control of a motor vehicle, you must be in a position where you could immediately begin driving. The most common example of this situation involves a person in a parked car with the keys in the ignition. If you are impaired in a motor vehicle and have all of the things necessary to drive off at a moment’s notice, you are likely in physical possession. That means you could be arrested for DWI without ever driving at all.
Fact #2: The State Has Options for Establishing Impairment
In order to convict you of DWI, the state must be able to show that you were impaired while you were behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. The law provides prosecutors with a number of options when it comes to proving impairment. Under the law, the state only needs to prove one of the following elements to secure a conviction:
- 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.
While each of these options is viable, the most common approach from prosecutors is paragraph 5. Under this approach, the state only needs to establish that your blood alcohol concentration was 0.08 or higher. This objective approach takes the guesswork out of determining if you were impaired or not.
Fact #3: You Do Not Have to Submit to Field Sobriety Test
One of the tools that police rely on when investigating DWI cases is a series of exercises known as standardized field sobriety tests. There are three tests in total: the one-legged stand, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, and the walk-and-turn test. When you are stopped under suspicion of DWI, the police might ask you to perform these tests.
The accuracy of these tests is disputed, especially when police fail to perform the correction. They are also subjective, making it possible for you to incriminate yourself with unscientific exercises that were not performed appropriately.
Thankfully, you are not obligated to perform field sobriety tests. The police might imply otherwise, but there are no additional consequences for refusing to submit to these examinations.
Fact #4: There are Consequences for Refusing a Blood Alcohol Test
When you drive a motor vehicle in Minnesota, you have given implied consent to submit to a breath, blood, or urine testing when the police suspect you are driving while impaired. However, you can decline to submit to chemical testing if you wish. Doing so can lead to a revocation of your driving privileges for one year.
It should be noted that if you refuse to submit to a chemical test, the police could seek a warrant from a judge. If the police obtain a warrant in time, they can take a blood sample from you for analysis. If this sample shows elevated blood alcohol concentration levels, you could face DWI charges in addition to the penalties for refusing a breath test.
Fact #5: There are Viable Defenses Against a DWI Charge
DWI charges are defensible. With the right strategy, it could be possible to win at trial or even see these charges dismissed. The right defense will depend on the facts of your case, however. There are two defense strategies commonly used in DWI cases. The first is to challenge the legality of the police stop. The second is to challenge the accuracy of the chemical test.
The police do not have the right to pull you over for any reason they want. They must have legal grounds, like witnessing you roll through a stop sign. If the police stop was illegal, the evidence collected at the scene could be barred from trial.
Chemical test results are often central to the state’s case. If the police violate your rights when collecting your sample, the results of that test could be excluded. The same is true for testing the sample. If mistakes are made during testing, it could render the results inaccurate. This could lead to your test results being excluded from the trial.
Fact #6: You Have the Right to an Attorney
You are not obligated to face the prosecution alone in a DWI case. In fact, you have the right to an attorney if you are unable to afford one on your own. This is true in any case where you face the possibility of jail time.
While the state will provide a public defender in many cases, you could benefit from the guidance of a private lawyer. Hiring an attorney to handle your case could give you the peace of mind of knowing that your attorney is working tirelessly on your case.
Fact #7: Previous Convictions Could Come Back to Haunt You
A DWI conviction in Minnesota does not go away the moment that you complete your sentence. If you are charged with a second DWI offense, your previous conviction could even be used against you. DWI charges are enhanceable offenses under state law. That means for each prior conviction in the past 10 years, the penalties for a conviction can go up. First-time offenders often do not spend additional time in jail. However, multiple prior convictions could result in years in prison.
Talk to Attorney Gerald Miller About Your DWI Case
When you have an experienced DWI attorney on your side, you could get the answers to all of your questions. Your attorney could focus on the important facts of your case while helping you develop the right defense strategy.
Understanding the basics of DWI charges in Minneapolis is only the first step. In order to improve your chances of a favorable outcome, you need legal counsel you can rely on. The attorneys of Gerald Miller are here to help you fight back against your DWI charges. Call immediately to discuss your case during a free consultation.