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What’s The Difference Between DUI and DWI in Eden Prairie?

The abbreviates “DUI” and “DWI” are often used interchangeably in Eden Prairie and elsewhere. There can be confusion about the meaning of these terms for good reason. While some states have separate criminal offenses known as DUI and DWI, others use one term or the other for the offense of drunken driving.

Minnesota uses the abbreviation DWI, which means “driving while impaired.” This is different from most other states that refer to DWI as “driving while intoxicated.” In Minnesota, the abbreviation DUI is not recognized under the law. It can be used informally, but is not recognized by statute.

No matter what you call it, an arrest and conviction for a drunken driving offense is a serious legal matter. A conviction could have a heavy financial cost and also result in your incarceration. Learn how you could fight back against these charges during a free consultation with the attorneys of Gerald Miller.


Understanding the DWI Statute

The law surrounding DWI charges in Minnesota is governed statute. According to Minnesota Statute Section 169A.20, it is illegal to driver, operate, or exert physical control over a motor vehicle while impaired. Understanding each of these terms is important if you are facing a potential DWI case.


Operate, Drive, or Exert Physical Control Over a Vehicle

One of the key aspects of a criminal charge related to drinking and driving relates to the use of a motor vehicle. The law is written in such a way that you could be convicted of DWI in Eden Prairie for behavior other than driving, however. In addition to operating or driving a vehicle, you could also face a conviction for exerting physical control over the vehicle.

The element involving the exertion of physical control is designed to cover individuals who are not currently driving but have the resources to drive at a moment’s notice. Typically, this section of the statute is reserved for impaired individuals in a parked vehicle that has the keys in the ignition. These charges are even levied against individuals sleeping in cars.



Impairment is other key aspect of a DWI case. If a person is not impaired, a criminal conviction is inappropriate even if the other elements of the case are met. When it comes to proving that a driver is impaired, the prosecution has options. In total, there are seven ways the state can prove impairment and they only need to establish one of them to secure a conviction. These include:

  1. The person is under the influence of alcohol
  2. The person is under the influence of a controlled substance
  3. 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
  4. The person is under the influence of a combination of any two or more of the elements named in clauses (1) to (3)
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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

The most common option among these is paragraph five. Known as “per se DWI,” the state can secure a conviction under this part of the statute by merely showing a driver operated a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more.


Reach Out to an Attorney About Your DWI Case in Eden Prairie

If you are facing a charge of DWI in Eden Prairie, you have the right to a strong defense. Our firm is ready to review the allegations against you and advise on the best possible defense strategy for your situation. To get started with building your defense, contact the attorneys of Gerald Miller right away to schedule your free consultation.

About the author

Kyle Dreger

Kyle Dreger is a skilled DUI/DWI and Criminal Defense lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. Kyle has received his law degree from the University of St. Thomas School of Law. He is also a professionally trained basketball player.

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