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Three Scenarios Where You Might Be Facing a Wrongful DWI Charge

Many people recognize that they should retain a Minneapolis criminal defense attorney if they are charged with robbery, sexual assault, or manufacturing methamphetamine, but they often assume there is no point in challenging a DWI charge. This view might be based on a notion that a DWI conviction does not carry serious consequences or that these cases are built on fairly objective scientific evidence. Both of these assumptions are mistaken. A DWI conviction can mean jail or prison time, a criminal record, loss of driving privileges, steep fines, and other monetary costs, among other undesirable ramifications. These formal aspects of sentencing do not even account for the potential impact of a DWI charge on future job opportunities, immigration consequences, academic pursuits, life insurance qualifications, and professional licensing.

Fortunately, there are an array of ways that an experienced Minnesota DWI defense lawyer can challenge charges and seek a dismissal, acquittal or reduction of the charge(s) or sentencing. This blog post provides three situations where you might be able to successfully challenge your DWI charge:

Negative Field Sobriety Tests or Chemical Testing

While you might think you cannot be arrested for DWI if you pass field sobriety tests (FSTs) or chemical tests of blood alcohol concentration (BAC), officers do arrest motorists for DWI in this situation. However, the case against you typically will be weak if you pass FSTs or blow under the legal limit of .08 percent BAC. If you find that you have been charged with DWI and one of these forms of screening indicated you were not intoxicated, you absolutely should contact a criminal defense attorney before considering any plea agreement – a good practice in any case.

Illegal Stops

If the officer lacks sufficient evidence to stop your vehicle, all evidence obtained during the stop might be excluded, including chemical test results, field sobriety tests, and the officer’s observations during the stop. Many people arrested for DWI are initially pulled over for a traffic violation. If the officer cannot establish legal grounds for the traffic stop, the evidence obtained after you are pulled over might be excluded from the case.

DWI roadblocks must be set up and administered by supervising law enforcement officers under the authority of local government. In other words, police officers cannot simply set up a DWI checkpoint on their own. Strict rules also exist for where sobriety checkpoints must be located and the necessity of a checkpoint. The process for selecting which vehicles will be pulled over must be based on non-biased objective procedures, such as every third vehicle.

The period motorists are detained and questioned at a checkpoint also must be reasonable, so the officer cannot interrogate you for thirty minutes without a factual basis in an attempt to get you to admit driving drunk. The checkpoint also must be clearly marked to alert approaching motorists and publicized before operation of the checkpoint.

Sobriety Checkpoints

DWI roadblocks present a more complicated situation because the officer does not have to establish evidence to justify the stop. Many motorists who understand this aspect do not think they can challenge their arrest at a checkpoint.

However, the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Minnesota law imposes strict limits on the use of this DWI enforcement tool because of its potential for abuse by police officers. Checkpoints cannot be set up and operated randomly. If any of the strict procedural requirements for setting up and operating a sobriety checkpoint are ignored, a Minneapolis DWI lawyer might be able to get your charges dismissed or obtain an alternative positive outcome.

DWI roadblocks must be set up and administered by supervising law enforcement officers under the authority of local government. In other words, police officers cannot simply set up a DWI checkpoint on their own. Strict rules also exist for where sobriety checkpoints must be located, as well as the necessity of a checkpoint. The process for selecting which vehicles will be pulled over must be based on non-biased objective procedures, such as every third vehicle. The duration of time that a motorist is detained and questioned at a checkpoint also must be reasonable, so the officer cannot interrogate you for thirty minutes without a factual basis in an attempt to get you to admit driving drunk. The checkpoint also must be clearly marked and publicized before operation of the checkpoint.

These are just a few ways that Minneapolis criminal defense attorneys at Gerald Miller P.A. might be able to challenge your DWI charge. Many other defense strategies might apply, such as demonstrating the breath test device was not properly calibrated or that your blood specimen was not handled properly. If you are facing a DWI charge in the Twin Cities or the surrounding areas of Minnesota, we invite you to contact us as soon as possible. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can start protecting your rights. Contact us today to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.


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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Cost depends on several factors, the most important of which are usually the attorney’s experience level and the severity of the offense. Experienced Minneapolis criminal defense lawyers charge more than inexperienced attorneys. Additionally, felonies usually cost more than misdemeanors, because most felonies are more complex than most misdemeanors.Some attorneys charge by the hour. Other attorneys charge stairstep flat fees, such as X for a negotiated plea bargain, X+Y for a trial before the judge, and X+Y+Z for a trial before a jury. It is illegal for criminal lawyers to charge contingency fees. So, unless the attorney is a public interest lawyer, you will almost always pay something upfront.
Experience, location, and commitment are usually the three best things to look for in a Minneapolis criminal defense lawyer. Experienced lawyers know how to evaluate cases and identify defenses. They also know all the written and unwritten procedural rules. Furthermore, it is much easier to work with an attorney who has an office nearby as opposed to a lawyer who is on the other side of town. Finally, for many lawyers, criminal defense is a sideshow. You need a lawyer who is committed to individual rights and committed to an effective defense.
At the initial consultation, Minneapolis criminal defense lawyers evaluate your case, identify defenses, and answer your procedural and other questions. At a subsequent pretrial hearing, defense lawyers challenge the state’s case on legal and procedural grounds. At trial, attorneys challenge the state’s evidence, so prosecutors cannot establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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