Maybe you just had a few beers at a barbecue and you felt fine. Or you were drinking while fishing and thought enough time had passed for the alcohol to leave your system. Then came the sirens and blinking lights, followed by a breathalyzer test.
This past Memorial Day Weekend, police were out in force to minimize accidents related to drinking and driving. For their efforts, they made 328 DWI arrests. This is up from 259 a year ago, but fatalities were cut in half from six to three.
DWI is unfortunately a fairly common charge in our state. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, in 2015 over 25,000 drivers were arrested one, and an eye-opening 1 in 7 Minnesota motorists have a DWI on their record.
Think about that for a second. How often do you pass seven people on the road? Probably every single time you go out. That means, on average, you’re driving by someone who’s gotten a DWI all the time.
Here’s my point: you’re in plenty of company. Obviously, getting charged with a DWI is not a good thing, and we should all strive to make our roads safer by coming up with alternative ways home whenever we drink. That being said, you can’t change the past – what you can do learn from what happened and fight for your future.
5 Important Things to Know about Minnesota DWI Charges
Here are five things to know if you are facing a DWI charge:
- You should hire a professional DWI attorney right away. This is a sensitive case. Even if it’s just your first offense, you might end up in jail for 90 days and face a $1,000 fine – and those are just the tip of the iceberg as far as costs are concerned. Subsequent offenses bring more severe penalties, and if you get a felony DWI you can even end up in jail for seven years.
So the first thing you need to do is hire a skilled Minnesota DWI attorney who understands how to fight your case. The faster you start working with a knowledgeable lawyer, but more likely you are to experience a positive outcome, because they will have more time to develop your defenses strategy and be able to protect your rights – and keep you from saying and doing things that could hurt your case – earlier.
- Your license can be suspended… but you can get it back. If you are convicted and your license gets suspended, you have the right to challenge to get it back. Also, you may qualify to receive a limited license if you need it for work, school, or other necessary things.
This is yet another area where an experienced DWI attorney can come in handy, because they will make sure that you are aware of all your rights and the options that are available to you.
- Cases aren’t always dismissed just because Miranda Rights aren’t read. If you watch cop shows on TV, Miranda Rights often seem like a magic bullet for people charged with crimes. When police officers neglect the, people go free. Simple as that.
Except in real life it is not that simple. First off, officers to not need to read Miranda rights while charging you with DWI. An officer can stop you, and a simple alcohol test can be enough to arrest you. Moreover, even if the cops completely forget to read you your Miranda Rights, that doesn’t mean that your case will be automatically dismissed.
However, there is an upside. If you are put into police custody without being Mirandized, your statement cannot be used against you.
- There are all kinds of potential defenses. Let’s go down just a few of them:
- No probable cause. There should be probable cause to arrest. If the officer has no probable cause to arrest you, then you can use this in your defense. For example, if you think you were suspected because of your race or ethnicity you can challenge your arrest.
- Operator error. If you think the officer didn’t take the test perfectly, you can challenge the accuracy of the test and go through the process thoroughly. Remember, these tests are the crucial part of your prosecution, so if you can call their accuracy into question, all the better.
- Device error. Just as the officer conducting your test can make a mistake, so can the device itself. It could have been calibrated incorrectly. Or stored incorrectly. Or simply be experiencing another type of problem.
- Misreading. Did you know that breathalyzers “read” all kinds of things as drinking alcohol? Because of this, you could show a high BAC for, say, having used mouthwash before getting in your car. If you can offer up an alternative reason for why you tested over the limit on your test, you may be able to beat your charges.
Bottom line? Your best chance is to talk to a smart Minnesota criminal attorney about your case as soon as possible. Don’t delay – your future is on the line.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).