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One moment you’re out celebrating the weekend with your friends, the next moment you’re getting arrested for a DWI. Minnesota police officers are always on the lookout for DWI offenders. It’s understandable considering that out of the 361 car-crash fatalities in 2014, 24% of them were related to drunk driving.
Our law enforcement is trained to spot signs of a drunk driver, and if they even suspect you might be driving under the influence, they will pull you over and attempt to arrest you. Whether the arrest was legitimate or not, you will still have to deal with the consequences of a DWI in the meantime. That means finding an experienced attorney who will work with you and try to have your charges reduced or dropped.
If you’ve recently been charged with a DWI crime in Minnesota, contact our office today to schedule a free initial consultation and case evaluation. Our attorneys can answer your legal questions and guide you towards the best options available for your case.
In Minnesota, driving while impaired (DWI) occurs when you are driving under the influence of any substance that can alter your intellect and clarity of mind. These substances can severely limit your ability to drive and make judgments on the road. While many people usually associate DWIs with alcohol, they can include any substance that could impact your ability to drive – including many controlled and hazardous substances.
You could receive a DWI charge in Minnesota if you meet any of the following conditions while driving, operating, or in the physical control of a motor vehicle.
Since marijuana is a substance that alters your ability to drive, it is illegal within the state of Minnesota to operate a motor vehicle while under its influence – even if you are a medical marijuana patient. Just like all medications that cause impairment, you cannot legally operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of cannabis. If the police officer determines that you are under the influence of marijuana at the time of your arrest, you could receive a DWI charge.
Where medical marijuana may come into play during a DWI charge is if the officers try to charge you for possession of cannabis. Minnesota has some of the strictest medical marijuana laws in the country, and you can only carry cannabis pills as a patient. If the officers try to charge you for possession of marijuana when you are abiding by Minnesota medical regulations, contact Knutson + Casey as soon as possible to fight the charges.
In the state of Minnesota, anyone who drives, operates, or is in control of a vehicle automatically consents to a chemical test to determine if he or she is under the influence of alcohol, controlled, or intoxicating substances while driving. This procedure may include testing blood, breath or urine. Before a police officer can make you take a chemical test, he or she must have probable cause to ask for the test.
The officer will build probable cause by making an investigatory stop or accident investigation for a valid reason, such as breaking a traffic law. The officer can build the investigation if he or she notices any other evidence, such as the smell of marijuana or alcohol. The officer can then administer a field sobriety test and a preliminary breath test. The officer may order additional tests, such as blood and urine tests, based on these observations.
A police officer can only administer a chemical test with probable cause. If an officer pulls you over and does not provide a basis for pulling you over, you can contest the potential charges. Speak to your Knutson + Casey DWI attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.
Even if you are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the police officer stops you, it is illegal to refuse a breathalyzer test in Minnesota due to the implied consent laws. You can receive additional charges if you refuse to take this test. The officer can arrest you if you refuse to cooperate on the spot or order a warrant for further testing. However, you do have the right to consult with an attorney before you take the test.
From the moment you’re pulled over to the moment you’re brought into court, your actions will have an effect on the outcome of your case. Did you know that refusing to take a breathalyzer test will result in a separate set of charges? Every time you refuse a breathalyzer test, you automatically lose your license for a year. This charge is on top of your other DWI charges, meaning you could potentially lose your license for a very long time.
Furthermore, some DWI charges can also lead to jail time. While there is no minimum jail time required for a first offense, that’s not to say you won’t be sentenced to any jail time. This will largely depend on the nature of the charge, your attorney, and your own behavior. Second and third DWI offenses carry minimum jail sentences of 30 and 90 days, respectively. Bear in mind that this is the minimum, not the maximum; therefore, it’s critical to work with an attorney who will strengthen your case and keep sentences (if found guilty) to an absolute minimum.
DWI charges can have a significant and lasting effect on your life for years to come. Not only do you run the risk of having your license revoked, but you may also face trouble with your credit, insurance rates, and even your job. As if that isn’t enough, you also face the following possible penalties for a first offense:
Obviously, the penalties are more severe for additional DWI charges. A 4th offense can land you in jail for up to 7 years, with thousands of dollars in fines. Additionally, there are other exacerbating factors, such has having a significant blood-alcohol percentage, or having a minor in the vehicle. Regardless of your individual situation, your attorney’s job is to consolidate or reduce as many of the charges as possible and attempt to have your case dismissed completely. If you are found guilty and sentenced, your attorney will advocate for the most minimal sentencing possible.
There are several ways your attorney will attempt to reduce your charges. By looking at the circumstances surrounding the arrest and how it was carried out, your attorney may be able to find evidence suggesting a false or invalid arrest. He or she will also collect evidence that could lessen or dismiss your charges or sentencing. There are a lot of moving parts in a DWI case, and it’s your attorney’s job to orchestrate those parts to move in your favor as much as possible.
At Knutson+Casey Law Firm in Mankato, Minnesota, we have worked on a great number of DWI cases. We have years of experience in DWI/DUI defense, and we provide effective representation for first and multiple DUI offenders. Regardless of the charges or the situation, we believe everyone has a right to a skilled and compassionate defense attorney. Contact us today to begin building your case.