So you’ve been charged with a DWI.
Maybe you thought you were okay to drive, but the Breathalyzer said otherwise and you’re still trying to figure it out. Maybe there was a misunderstanding with police officers and you were worried that arguing about it would only get you into more trouble.
No matter what led to your DWI charges, you probably just want to get the case over with and return to your normal life. Plus, you may have heard from friends that judges often go easy on someone if it is their first offense. That if you have an otherwise clean criminal record, you can convince the judge that your DWI was a mistake and you won’t have to serve time in jail.
Besides, what’s the big deal about having a single DWI conviction on your record?
Stop right there. Even one DWI conviction in Minnesota can have long-term penalties and consequences far beyond fines or community service hours. If there is even a chance to get your charges dropped or dismissed, you owe it to yourself, your family, and your future to build the strongest defense strategy possible.
Why You Should Get Tough on Minnesota DWI Charges
It’s Easier to Get Your Charges Expunged. Yes, misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor convictions can be expunged from your criminal record. However, you’ll have to wait several years in order to be eligible.
In contrast, if your charges are dropped, you will be able to get your record expunged a lot quicker.
A Second or Third DWI Comes With Additional Penalties. The penalties for a first DWI include up to 90 days in jail and $1,000 in fines. The penalties for a second DWI include a minimum of 30 days and up to one year in jail, as well as up to $3,000 in fines. The penalties for a third DWI are the same as a second DWI, but the minimum sentence increases to 90 days in jail. Eventually, nine DWIs may lead to five years in prison.
It also tends to be a lot harder to convince the judge that you just made a simple mistake and won’t do it again if this is your second or third DWI. Even if you don’t anticipate getting another DWI, these penalties should be considered as you fight your first offense.
A Conviction Is a Conviction. All criminal convictions have a lasting effect. Law enforcement officials will be able to see your criminal record forever – even if you try to get it expunged. Jail time isn’t the only “serious” criminal penalty, either. A lot of people struggle mightily because their license is suspended and they can’t drive, for example. These penalties can have a costly affect on your job or finances regardless of whether you spend time in jail or not.
Defend Your Charges with a Minnesota DWI Lawyer
Even if tests showed you with a BAC over .08 on the night of your arrest, there are ways to defend against DWI charges. Consider the following commonly used defense strategies, including:
- Inaccurate Suspicion
- Faulty Breathalyzer or Field Test
- Your Rights Were Not Honored/You Were Unlawfully Arrested
- You Have Made Attempts to Rehabilitate Yourself
Not all of these strategies will be appropriate for your case. Your best option is to hire an experienced Minnesota DWI lawyer and go over your options, the events that led to your arrest and DWI charges, and what the outcomes are likely to be for each defense strategy.
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).