A first-offense DWI is usually a fourth-degree misdemeanor in Minnesota. No big deal, right? Why spend the money on a lawyer when you can accept a standard sentence, take your lumps, and move on with your life?
Because a DWI is a big deal. It can shake up your life for years. That makes it next to impossible to completely move on.
You need a lawyer who will fight for you.
Even after you’ve paid your fines and court costs, had your drivers’ license reinstated and fulfilled all your other legal obligations, a DWI can feel like a ghost from your past that cannot be fully exorcised. Here’s how.
- Background checks. Most companies check out the criminal records of job candidates. A first-offense DWI conviction in Minnesota will show up on your record (even though it’s not a felony) and make you seem like a less-desirable choice than you would be otherwise. Employers often look at people convicted of a DWI as being irresponsible. They also worry the candidate has a problem with alcohol or drugs (a DWI means driving while impaired,so you can get cited using even legally-prescribed drugs before getting behind the wheel) that will affect job performance. Also, landlords conduct background checks, so a DWI on your record can stop you from getting that dream apartment you’ve had your eye on.
- Insurance rates. A misdemeanor DWI conviction will cause your auto insurance rates to skyrocket for years – sometimes double or tripling. You could also lose your current insurance coverage if your policy decides to cancel you because of a DWI conviction.
- Reputation and image. A DWI can make your current employer and colleagues think less of you even down the road. The arrest and/or conviction could end up in the local newspaper’s police blotter. People tend to remember others’ mistakes, which is an unfortunate truth.
- Future citations. One of the biggest things to think about moving forward, is that DWI’s are enhanceable. That means that any prior DWI conviction or loss of license within a 10 year look-back period will make a new DWI case more serious. Some people feel like a first offense misdemeanor DWI may not be too painful right away, but it creates an enhancement that makes second and future offenses more damaging and punitive.
Overwhelming and discouraging, right? Keep reading.
Say you go it alone. Minnesota’s maximum for a fourth-degree, misdemeanor DWI is 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Even if you don’t spend any time in jail, you will lose your license and have some fines and court costs to pay. The judge may sentence you to community service and probation for up to two years. The court and prosecutor also could send you into DWI specific education or even treatment too. Frankly, what county you are in, which judge you have, and what you facts and circumstances are, could also add additional burdensome consequences.
So, back to your case. Still considering representing yourself, that there’s no point in paying the money for a DWI lawyer since it’s your first offense and you can just face the music on your own?
A Minnesota attorney with expertise in DWI cases will look at your case – and remind you that there is always hope. Your case isn’t necessarily cut and dry, open and shut. There is a lot that a lawyer with experience in DWI cases can do to help – including, with luck, getting your charges reduced or dismissed completely.
Here’s the thing: you don’t necessarily need to plead guilty right away. A DWI lawyer will look at all the factors that led to your arrest and charges for DWI. Was there a legitimate reason for the police officer to make the traffic stop, such as speeding, weaving or a broken tail light? Can the officer ask you out of the car? Did you take field sobriety tests? How did those go? Was there probable cause to give you a breathalyzer test? Are the tests valid – and totally accurate? Were you informed of your rights and allowed to call an attorney if you wanted to? Was your blood alcohol level below the legal limit of 0.08?
These are very important questions that you likely won’t think of on your own. That’s why a good attorney is so important. It’s the difference between a DWI affecting your negatively for years – or not at all, and anywhere in between. You deserve a chance – and someone who will fight for you. At the very least, we will work to have your charges reduced or help you with a plea bargain, so the immediate consequences are a lot lower and the long-term impact is reduced.
What to do?
If you have been cited for driving while impaired, DWI, you should call an experienced Minnesota DWI attorney like the expert legal minds at Gerald Miller. We will look at your case and determine the best course of action for you.
Keep in mind, there are no guarantees. But every case is different. There is always a chance for a positive outcome. And you’ll never know if you don’t try. If you could turn back time to make all of it go away, everyone would. We are often asked, “Should I contest this case” Yes. You should, absolutely, positively 100 percent of time.
The Minneapolis attorneys at Gerald Miller handle all aspects of criminal law across the Twin Cities and statewide – but we have specialized in DWIs for years. We can help you fight the charges so they don’t ruin your life, both now and for years to come. A DWI affects your driving ability, your finances and your professional reputation. We want to help you so the damage is reduced or eliminated.
Don’t let one mistake hinder your ability to thrive and have a promising future. The staff at Gerald Miller understands that everyone makes mistakes. We can help you put this behind you.
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 – especially if you try to fight it alone.
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. We are ready to help immediately to give you and your family some relief – and well-deserved peace of mind.
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. Again, call us today at (612) 440-3212 and schedule your free and confidential consultation. Our team is available seven days a week.
We are on your side.