Riding a motorcycle is two-wheeled freedom on the open road. Exploring Minnesota’s scenic byways and loop routes on your Harley or Ducati is an alluring, exciting, and unforgettable way to see the best the North Star state has to offer this summer and every summer.
Until you spot flashing lights in your handlebar mirror. It’s the cops – local law enforcement or the Minnesota State Patrol – pulling you over. You have no idea what you did wrong, but you oblige and carefully come to a stop at the side of the road.
The officer asks you to step off the bike. He’s says you swerved a little close to the center line. Wait. What??? He then asks if you’ve been drinking. You DID have a few beers at your last stop – there was a cool little roadside bar along the way – but come on. It was only a couple.
Then, realization hits: You might be in big trouble here. The glorious feeling of insatiable freedom you felt only a few minutes before has abruptly comes to an end.
It’s replaced by fear.
One out of every seven Minnesota drivers has at least one DWI conviction on his or her record, according to the state’s Office of Traffic Safety. That’s why it is so important that you contact a Minnesota DWI attorney as soon as possible after your arrest.
Minneapolis DWI lawyer Gerald Miller and his team have decades of experience defending difficult drunk driving cases, including motorcycle DWI arrests. We have a high success rate, a commitment to compassion, and we will work tirelessly to get your charges reduced or even dismissed.
If you were cited for DWI on your motorcycle, car, truck, boat, or any other vehicle , call the Minneapolis DWI attorney Gerald Miller at 612-440-3864. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer your questions and begin defending your case. Your first consultation is free, so call now.
Police Are Looking for Drunk Drivers
Warm weather means more motorcyclists are on the road. The die-hards ride all year, but it appears that many motorcyclists consider riding season to run April through November. In Minnesota, our spring and summer often feels much shorter compared to other parts of the country. Mother Nature can be pretty unforgiving in the winter months, so we embrace all that warm weather has to offer. That includes riding our motorcycles.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are more than 8.4 million motorcycles registered in the U.S. Of those, nearly 242,000 are registered in Minnesota, making the state the 13thmost popular for motorcycle ownership – California was first, followed by Florida, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Montana, Michigan, Montana, and Indiana.
It’s clear that we love our motorcycles in Minnesota, and more are on the road right now. And, at the same time, police across Minnesota are on the lookout this time of year for drunk drivers, drunk boaters, drunk ATV enthusiasts and, yes, drunk motorcyclists. Expect to spot more traffic stops along the state’s roadways, highways and side streets. The time is ripe for overzealous efforts on the part of law enforcement to bust people for drinking and driving – another huge reason you need an experienced Minneapolis DWI lawyer on your side sooner rather than later.
Here’s an example. The Office of Traffic Safety recently offered a yearlong grant to law enforcement agencies in 25 counties where DWI-related injuries and deaths were highest. The Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office, according to a story by KEYC in Mankato, has a mission to crack down on drunk driving. The agency set a goal to make 60 DWI arrests per deputy by September.
As of Memorial Day, one of the two deputies assigned to the program had already made 62 DWI arrests. The other wasn’t far behind. Wow. The truth is, law enforcement agencies everywhere have incentives to pull you over.
What’s more, officers can arrest you for DWI even if your BAC is under .08. Any law enforcement official in the state of Minnesota can arrest someone for a DWI if he or she seems visibly impaired. Once tested, a man or woman’s blood alcohol can be lower than the legal limit and they can still end up with a drunk driving citation.
Minnesota’s DWI laws suggest that it’s illegal to drive a car after even one drink. Even so, that’s not the purpose of such DWI mandates. Allowing an officer to decide if someone is impaired and cite him or her for a DWI even though he or she is under the legal limit will only punish responsible people who might have a glass of wine or a beer with dinner before driving home – which could be the case with the motorcyclist in our scenario above.
You’re Not Alone – Motorcycle DWIs are More Common This Time of Year
As motorcycle DWI arrests are sure to increase this summer, more and more people are reaching out to Minnesota DWI defense lawyer Gerald Miller. Jerry and his team – Minneapolis DWI lawyer Kyle Dreger and Minneapolis DWI lawyer Cody Wright – can help motorcyclists charged with drunk driving defend their cases and protect their rights. Criminal Defense Lawyers in Minnesota are gearing up to defend such cases.
If you have been charged with a driving while intoxicated in Minnesota, whether it’s on your motorcycle or driving a car, you likely have worries about what kind of penalties and fines you face in court. Gerald Miller Law Firm in Minneapolis can help. More on that later.
In 2010, the percentage drivers by vehicle involved in fatal crashes who had a BAC level of .08 or higher was 28 percent for motorcycle riders, 23 percent for passenger car drivers, and 22 percent for drivers of light trucks, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NITSA.
Many motorcycle enthusiasts advocate against drinking and riding, encouraging motorcyclists to stay sober on the road. Some motorcycle clubs prohibit consuming alcohol at their events.
They also warn riders to watch out for drunk motorists on the highways and roadways next to them.
Even so, the appeal alcohol has had its place in motorcycle culture. There are motorcycle-themed bars, events that encourage bar-hopping, and rider festivals where alcohol is available. At Sturgis 2018, though, DUI arrests were down by at least 43 percent.
Many states refer to drunk driving as a DUI, or driving under the influence. Minnesota refers to the charge as a DWI, or driving while impaired. State law doesn’t just include drunk driving; it’s also driving while impaired by drugs, including prescription medications as well as illegal drugs like marijuana and cocaine. Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Gerald Miller and his team also handle all kinds of drug arrests; we can help defend your drug case too.
In Minnesota, it is against the law to drive if you have a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher, as measured within 2 hours of you driving. For every 88 instances of driving, someone is arrested for operating a motor vehicle above the legal limit. Within two hours of drinking – at any given location in the country, including Minnesota – an average of 772 drivers will be arrested for drunk driving, the NHTSA reports.
What Happens During a Minnesota Motorcycle DWI Traffic Stop?
A police officer who pulls over a motorist suspected of drinking and driving must have probable cause to make the arrest and the traffic stop itself. That means he or she looks for signs of impaired behavior: speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, drifting over the center line, a broken taillight, and more. It’s similar with regard to motorcycle drivers. Once off the bike, some of the signs are also the same, including bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, the smell of alcohol on the breath.
Police also look for motorcycles to drift incorrectly inside and outside of a lane as they turn to determine whether there is probable cause to check them for drinking and driving. The driver also may abruptly swerve, appear to be unsteady on the bike, and dismount from the bike improperly – all red flags to police that the motorcyclist might have imbibed too much.
Refuse a Field Sobriety Test
As with all traffic stops, the Minnesota attorneys at Gerald Miller Law Firm advise motorcyclists to refuse field sobriety tests, even if they have been drinking and the officer suggests they will get in more trouble if they don’t.
Minnesota has an implied consent law on the books. Under the law’s provisions, motorists pulled over on suspicion of a DWI can politely refuse to participate in field sobriety tests. They also have the right to ask to speak to a lawyer before agreeing to any tests that may or may not determine if they are over the legal limit to drive.
Field sobriety tests are a series of tests that a law enforcement officer can try to administer when he or she makes a traffic stop on a suspected drunk driver. The tests include:
- The horizontal gaze nystagmus, or an involuntary jerking of the eyeball that occurs as the eyes gaze to one side;
- The walk-and-turn, where the motorist is asked to take nine steps touching heel to toe and in a straight line;
- The one-leg stand test, where the person is told to stand with one leg about six inches off the ground and count beginning with one thousand one for thirty seconds;
- The portable hand-held breath test that can be administered on the side of the road.
The only purpose of field sobriety tests are to give an arresting officer probable cause to justify a DWI arrest. That being said, you are allowed under the law to politely decline participation in any and all field sobriety tests. Minnesota’s implied consent law requires motorists to submit to a formal breath test at the police station, but again, that requirement does not extend to field sobriety tests on the side of the road.
No matter what, refuse any and all field sobriety tests. Declining the tests is basically all you should say during the entire traffic stop.
Minnesota DWI Penalties
The level of DWI punishment in Minnesota typically depends on the degree of your DWI charge – and whether you have others on your record – as well as the facts and circumstances surrounding the case. The most crucial and perhaps most life-altering civil consequence of a DWI conviction is the loss of your driving privileges. Even a first-time DWI offense where your BAC is less than 0.16 percent results in some loss of driving privileges for up to a year.
If your blood alcohol concentration for a first-time DWI offense was lower than 0.16 percent, you can face up to ninety days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, if during that offense, you also had a child in your car, you can face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $3,000.
You are highly likely to lose your license if convicted of a DWI in Minnesota. A work permit and use of an ignition interlock is possible, however, but only to drive a car. Ignition interlock devices cannot be installed on rented vehicles, vehicles determined to be recreational, scooters – and motorcycles. That means if you are convicted of DWI in Minnesota, you cannot operate your motorcycle until your sentence is up.
There is Always Hope
Don’t forget: Overzealous police can make mistakes. Did the officer follow procedure? Was your breathalyzer test accurate? Did the officer really have probable cause to make the traffic stop? In 40 years of practice, we have successfully pushed for countless drunk driving cases thrown out on behalf of our clients. If you have reason to believe a police officer may have broken the rules or violated your rights, there is a chance your case could be dismissed.
An experienced DWI attorney – especially one who specializes in DWI cases – is imperative. Don’t automatically let go of the freedom you enjoy as a motorcyclist. Give the Minnesota law firm of Gerald Miller P.A. today.
What to do?
Sound like you or someone you know? Contact the experienced Minnesota DWI attorneys Gerald Miller, P.A. Our expert team will look at your case and determine the best course of action. We will guide you through the process, working toward a positive outcome no matter the circumstances of the arrest.
We are often asked, “Should I contest this case?” Yes. You should, absolutely, positively 100 percent of the time. Every arrest is different; few are open and shut cases. We look at every aspect of the case, from time of the arrest to the officer’s actions to the accuracy of your Breathalyzer test.
What makes Gerald Miller different from other Minnesota criminal defense lawyers?
The Minneapolis lawyers at Gerald Miller handle all aspects of criminal law across the Twin Cities and statewide, but we have specialized in DWIs for decades. A DWI affects your driving ability, your finances and your professional reputation.
Don’t let one mistake hinder a promising future.
Legal Counsel is Critical to Success
The sooner you contact us the sooner we can start protecting your rights. Contact us today to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.
Call the Minneapolis DWI attorneys at Gerald Miller today at 612-440-4610. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to give you some answers, a little hope and plenty of well-deserved peace of mind.