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Minnesota DWI law and jail: Why do I need to bail my loved one out?

It’s one of those phone calls that nobody expects or wants to receive: your son, daughter, spouse, friend or other relative is in jail, arrested for DWI. But why is he or she in jail and need to be bailed out? Isn’t a DWI in Minnesota a citation? Aren’t most people allowed to go home the night they are arrested?

Minnesota’s bail law is clear when it comes to DWI charges. Minn. Stat. 169A.44, and Minn. Stat. 629.471 have to be used in conjunction to determine what applies for certain DWI offenders. The statute requires certain people accused of driving while impaired be taken to jail and where they have to post bail or agree to conditions to get out of there. We will address those conditions later.

But first, let’s outline the Minnesota law that applies to the maximum bail amount that a judge can impose, so you know what you’re dealing with before you head to the bank. Keep in mind, for a first-offense DWI (if misdemeanor level), motorists usually don’t go to jail and are released on their own recognizance, or ROR.

Here’s how it works if a person already has DWIs on his or her record and is taken to jail: The maximum amount of bail a judge can set for a DWI is $12,000, which is four times the highest fine possible for the offense.

Any Minnesota judge overseeing a DWI in Minneapolis, a DWI in St. Paul or anywhere across the Twin Cities sets bail in two different styles: conditional and unconditional.

Conditional bail means a person accused of a DWI or another crime must meet certain conditions of release from jail, such as wearing an ankle bracelet and promising to quit drinking and using illegal drugs.

Unconditional bail is what it sounds like: the accused doesn’t need to follow any rules before his or her DWI court date in Hennepin County or elsewhere.

A judge usually will set a much higher unconditional bail than conditional bail. Minnesota does allow the use of a bail bondsman, so when the judge sets your unconditional bail at $12,000, you’ll pay a bondsman $1,200 to get out.

Whether you receive conditional or unconditional bail, you must show up for your court appearances.

Now, let’s look at the instances when a judge would impose bail. Some of them include:

  • The DWI (also known as DUI) is a felony. That means the DWI is a first-degree offense because it had aggravating factors, such as severe property damage or injury or death to another person.
  • The DWI was a second-degree DWI. Even a first-time offender can be charged with a second-degree DWI if his or her blood alcohol content was .16 or above or if there was a passenger in the car age 16 or younger. The motorist also can be taken to jail if he or she has young person is in the car and has been convicted of a DWI in the past decade.
  • The motorist’s blood alcohol content was at least .16 or greater (at least twice the legal limit of .08 percent).
  • The motorist’s driver’s license had been suspended or revoked at the time of the DWI arrest.

In some cases, a judge may agree release a second or third offense DWI motorist on ROR, but it is not something that comes too easily. Again, that means bail is not required. ROR usually happens only if  the person is capable of avoiding another arrest until his or her court date. Tell your loved one to ask his or her attorney to request ROR to avoid a costly bail amount.

If your relative or friend is arrested over a weekend, bail is typically set at the person’s first court appearance the following Monday or Tuesday, keeping in line with the state’s rule that give prosecutors 36 hours to charge someone with a crime. The day of the arrest doesn’t count, and Sundays never count. That means if someone is arrested on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, he or she will spend the weekend in jail.

The only exception is if a motorist charged with DWI hires an attorney and convinces a judge to set weekend bail due to children home alone or other circumstance.

But even if weekend bail is granted by a judge, the same maximum amount and conditions apply.

A judge will sometimes release someone on his or her own recognizance, or ROR. That will only happen, though, if a person has a clean criminal record and was cited for his or her first DWI. It’s important that you or your loved one in jail speak to an experienced Minnesota DWI attorney as soon as possible.

What to do?

If you have been cited for a DWI in Minnesota, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced drunk driving attorney immediately. He or she can let you know your rights and help you determine if the police have a valid case.

Every case is unique. A criminal law expert with experience in DWI cases can help you fight the charges so they don’t affect your driving ability, your finances and your professional reputation. It’s crucial that you take steps to ensure your professional license remains valid and intact, so you can move on with your life and put the DWI citation far behind you.

Don’t let one mistake ruin your life or your ability to get and keep a job. We know you’re a good person. We can help you move forward.

 Minnesota DWI Criminal Defense Lawyer

Everyone deserves the right to the best defense available and this is why an experienced attorney serving the Minnesota, including the Minneapolis metro area, is absolutely vital.

DWI and DUI are serious offenses. In addition to the danger you pose to yourself and others, you also expose yourself to severe penalties, including a heavy fine, court costs, insurance surcharges, motor vehicle surcharges, loss of license and even a jail term. Since these penalties are significant and create a negative record that could affect your ability to get a job, obtain insurance and generally get on with your life, you should consult an experienced attorney who is dedicated to the field of DWI and DUI defense.

At Gerald Miller, we focus on DWI and DUI cases and ensure you receive the best legal representation from the moment you contact us. We will look at all aspects of your case in great detail. You need this level of legal counsel because driving under the influence cases can be the most difficult ones in which to obtain a successful outcome.

We can help you understand the nuances of the state’s mandatory and maximum bail law, so you know what to expect. We will fight for an ROR release if possible.

A DWI or DUI charge can happen to anybody. We believe everyone should be treated equally.

Call the attorneys at Gerald Miller today at 612-440-4610. Our lines are open 24 hours. We are here waiting to help you immediately. The attorneys at Gerald Miller also can help you with a non-DWI criminal charge and other areas in which skilled legal advice is needed.

The attorneys at Gerald Miller, P.A., will work hard to protect your legal rights. Call us today at (612) 440-3212 and schedule your free and confidential consultation. We are available seven days a week. We are on your side!

About the author

Gerald Miller

Gerald Miller is a top-notch and experienced DWI/DUI lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. in Minneapolis, MN. He has more than 35 years of experience in Criminal Defense practice. He has also been a mentor to numerous DUI/DWI defense attorneys.

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