Minnesota DWI Lawyers

minnesota dwi lawyers The Minnesota DWI lawyers at North Star Criminal Defense has represented hundreds of clients charged with DWI in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the rest of the metropolitan area. Our experience gives us a unique advantage in representing you as we know exactly how to negotiate with prosecutors. We will relentlessly fight on your behalf to get you the best possible results. At North Star Criminal Defense, we understand the impacts that a DWI charge will have on your life and your future which is why our team will tirelessly work to make sure your needs are met, allowing you focus on your life and not not criminal charges.

Minnesota DWI Process

Minnesota’s DWI Law is complex, especially to those trying to navigate their own way through being charged with a DWI. The potential consequences for a DWI will be different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. A person facing a DWI charge in Minneapolis may have a very different case than someone in St. Paul even. We will try to sort out the basic components of a Minnesota DWI charge below.

At its most basic form, a DWI charge can be one of the following:

  1. Driving while under the influence of alcohol – proven by your driving conduct and the indicia of intoxication you exhibit following a stop;
  2. Driving while under the influence of a controlled substance – proven by your driving conduct, indicia of being under the influence, and a separate test designed to determine whether you are under the influence of a controlled substance; and
  3. Driving while your alcohol concentration is 0.08 or more at the time of, or as measured within 2 hours of, you operating the vehicle.

The severity level of the offense will depend on the number of prior convictions and the number of aggravating factors. An aggravating factor can be any of the following:

  1. a qualified prior impaired driving incident within the ten years immediately preceding the current offense;
  2. having an alcohol concentration of 0.16 or more as measured at the time, or within 2 hours of the time, of the offense; or
  3. having a child under the age of 16 in the motor vehicle at the time of the offense if the child is more than 36 months younger than the offender.

Of course, a “qualified prior impaired driving incident” is further defined to include both a “prior impaired conviction” and a “prior impaired driving-related loss of license.” Simply put, a “prior impaired conviction” is a prior DWI conviction in this state or another state with similar DWI law. A “prior impaired driving-relating loss of license” is the revocation, suspension, cancellation, denial, or disqualification of your license resulting from an offense of being under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance while driving. Either the conviction or the resultant loss of license – but not both if they arise from the same course of conduct – can be used as an aggravating factor to enhance the current DWI charge.

Types of DWI Charges

4th Degree DWI

4th degree DWI is a misdemeanor offense. This occurs when there are no aggravating factors – meaning, it is a first-time offense and the alcohol concentration was below 0.16. There are no mandatory penalties or long-term supervision.

The standard disposition for a first-time offense differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In some, you may be able to get a Careless Driving – rather than a plea to a DWI – or a stay of imposition or better. Meanwhile, other jurisdictions will seek a plea to the DWI and request for time in custody or community service. For more information, read here.

3rd Degree DWI

3rd degree DWI is a gross misdemeanor offense. There was one aggravating factor present at the time of the offense or the defendant refused to submit to the chemical test. There are mandatory penalties that apply and long-term monitoring may apply. In addition, your license plates will be revoked, unless you refused on a first-time offense.

The likely disposition will vary as before. In addition to the possibility of the outcomes mentioned before, a plea to a 4th Degree DWI as a misdemeanor is also a positive outcome when facing gross misdemeanor consequences. For more information, read here.

2nd Degree DWI

2nd degree DWI is a gross misdemeanor offense. There were 2 or more aggravating factors at the time of the offense or there was a refusal with 1 or more aggravating factors present. Mandatory penalties and long-term monitoring apply. License plates will be revoked. And, the vehicle will be subject to forfeiture. Because only a 2nd Degree allows for forfeiture of the vehicle, negotiating a plea to a lesser degree is difficult to accomplish when facing 2nd degree charges.

1st Degree DWI

1st degree DWI is a felony offense. Unlike the previous levels of offense, a felony does not rely upon “aggravating factors.” Instead, a felony results when the defendant has: (1) 3 or more “qualified prior impaired driving incidents” within the previous 10 years, (2) a previous felony DWI conviction; or (3) a certain prior criminal vehicular operation felony conviction. Because a previous felony DWI conviction can be used to enhance any future DWIs, once you are a felon, you are always a felon for DWI purposes. The number of priors within ten years is irrelevant at that point for future DWIs. The maximum penalty carries 7 years and a $14,000.00 fine.

This is the broad overview of the DWI law. For more detailed information, please click on the links below:

 

North Star Criminal Defense - Proven Success in Fighting DWI Charges

The Minnesota DWI lawyers at North Star Criminal Defense have nearly 30 combined years of successfully defending DWI charges of all degrees and throughout multiple jurisdictions. We know the law, the defenses, and the strategy necessary in order to obtain resolutions that avoid convictions and jail time. We have helped countless clients overcome these debilitating charges and get back on their feet.  If you have been accused of any type a DWI, you need to contact us right away.

1st Degree DWI Minnesota

1st Degree DWI 1st degree DWI in Minnesota is a felony offense. Unlike the previous levels of offense, a felony does not rely upon “aggravating factors.” Instead, a felony results when the defendant has: (1) 3 or more “qualified prior impaired driving incidents” within the previous 10 years, (2) a previous felony DWI conviction; or (3) a certain prior criminal vehicular operation felony conviction. Because a previous felony DWI conviction can be used to enhance any future DWIs, once you are a felon, you are always a felon for DWI purposes. The number of priors within ten years is irrelevant at that point for future DWIs. The maximum penalty carries up to seven years in jail and/or a $14,000.00 fine. Consequences If you’re convicted of a 1st degree DWI, you will almost certainly face jail time. While the State may seek prison time, the amount of time you will need to serve will depend on the circumstances of the DWI and past DWI convictions. With that being said, it is possible to limit this exposure based upon potential proactive steps – such as chemical dependency treatment and programming – which may lead to much more lenient sentencing, including significantly less jail time. Additionally, your driver’s license will be revoked for an extended period of time. The typical revocation period is four years but if you cannot demonstrate sobriety in this time it will be lengthened. If your license is reinstated, there is a no tolerance policy for driving with any blood alcohol concentration. This policy will last for 10 years before you may be granted a regular license. Case Results To see just how successful our approach is, here are some representative case results: State v. A.V. Charges: 1st Degree DWI Resolution: Case out of Anoka County. After motion practice, Client permitted to plead to a gross misdemeanor offense with only house arrest, a minimum fine, and drastically reduced probation, solely to the Court. Perhaps most importantly–even with complete avoidance of a felony conviction–the client’s vehicle was returned at no cost. A great result for a felony charge. State v. M.S. Charges: 1st Degree DWI Resolution: A misdemeanor outcome for our client. Client’s long-term relationship dissolved poorly, multiple felony counts resulted, and then two separate DWI matters allegedly occur. An utterly inclusive and long-term commitment to sobriety, and verification of the same, changed the tenor of the case completely, and a presumptive prison sentence was avoided completely. Client is able to maintain employment, keep his home, recover his work truck, and move on with his life, and was overjoyed with his results. See More Case Results For more detailed information, please click on the links below: Mandatory Penalties Bail and Conditional Release Field Sobriety Tests Implied Consent Law Defenses License Consequences (IID and Limited License) Plate Impoundment Vehicle Forfeiture Miscellaneous DWI Laws North Star Criminal Defense – Proven Success in Fighting DWI Charges The Minnesota DWI attorneys at North Star Criminal Defense have nearly 30 combined years of successfully defending DWI charges of all degrees and throughout multiple jurisdictions. We know the law, the defenses, and the strategy necessary in order to obtain resolutions that avoid convictions and jail time. We have helped countless clients overcome these debilitating charges and get back on their feet.  If you have been accused of any type a DWI, you need to contact us right away. Read More

2nd Degree DWI Minnesota

2nd Degree DWI 2nd Degree DWI in Minnesota is a gross misdemeanor offense. There were 2 or more aggravating factors at the time of the offense or there was a refusal with 1 or more aggravating factors present. Mandatory penalties and long-term monitoring apply. License plates will be revoked. And, the vehicle will be subject to forfeiture. Because only a 2nd Degree allows for forfeiture of the vehicle, negotiating a plea to a lesser degree is more complicated when facing 2nd degree charges. You will be charged with a 2nd degree DWI if the following factors apply: You have two prior DWI’s in the past ten years; Your alcohol concentration was at .16 or above or refused the test, and you have a prior DWI within the past 10 years; or Your alcohol concentration was at .16 or above and you had a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle at the time of the incident. Consequences If you’re convicted of a 2nd degree DWI, you will likely face jail time. The amount of time you will need to serve will depend on the circumstances of the DWI and the number of past DWI convictions. If there are two prior DWI convictions within the last 10 years, the statutory minimum requires 90 days to be served, with 30 days in custody and 60 on electronic home monitoring with alcohol supervision. If you have one prior DWI conviction with a current 2nd Degree DWI charge, the statutory minimum requires 48 hours in custody with 28 days on electronic home monitoring. Though, due to the elevated reading, most jurisdictions will initially ask for a stiffer penalty. And if the 2nd Degree DWI stems from a high reading and the presence of a child in the car, no statutory minimum is in play, but rest assured the State will seek stiff penalties that includes time in custody. Despite the presence of statutory minimum sentences, these can be avoided with a proper legal strategy. These are always negotiable and there are many proactive steps a client can take to improve their situation to receive a better outcome. Further, some jurisdictions – like Hennepin County for instance – have DWI Court – an alternative court that is designed to help repeat offenders tackle the underlying issues with alcohol. DWI Court involves intensive oversight by the Court and probation, and time-consuming, but the client can avoid lengthy jail sentences and get the care necessary to really tackle potential alcohol problems. Clients that have entered this program have been successful and are pleased with the decision to do it. We explore this option, as well as others, in developing and implementing a personalized legal strategy to best serve our clients needs. A 2nd Degree DWI attorney is critical to help counsel and guide you through this complicated maze and put you in the best position moving forward. Case Results To see just how successful our approach is, here are some representative case results: State v. S.B. Charges: 2nd Degree DWI – Gross Misdemeanor Resolution: 2nd Degree DWI case in Dakota County. After extensive negotiations, a strange DUI arrest shortly after a client resolved the last matter in which she was involved closed with no jail time required, a car returned notwithstanding a proper basis for forfeiture, and virtually no fine or other consequences. Stunning success, for a fantastic young lady. State v. J.J. Charges: 2nd Degree DWI – Gross Misdemeanor Resolution: Stay of Imposition to 3rd Degree DWI, meaning this will be a misdemeanor upon completion of probation. Client blew almost three-times the legal limit and was charged with assaulting the officer. Still, due in part to the client’s proactive measures to seek help, Mr. Gempeler was able to not only negotiate this incredible criminal result, but also negotiated the buy-back of the vehicle – a critical result for the client. State v. S.S.A. Charges: 2nd Degree DWI – Gross Misdemeanor Resolution: Plea to 3rd Degree DWI – Gross Misdemeanor. The client had a recent prior (in fact, she’s still on probation from it) and a high breath test reading. Further, she had a single-car accident that resulted in damage to public property. Her vehicle was subject to forfeiture, as well. Still, despite this bad facts, Mr. Gempeler negotiated a result that is consistent with a standard, low-reading second-time offense (which means, no further jail, minimal fine, no increase in house arrest often associated with high-reading/accident cases) and, most importantly to the client, the return of her vehicle. The client is very pleased with this result, understanding how easily it could have ended up so much worse for her without the proper counseling of North Star. State v. F.L. Charges: 2nd Degree DWI – Gross Misdemeanor Resolution: An extremely high PBT test and two aggravating factors out of Washington County, settled as essentially a 4th Degree DWI. The forfeiture of his motor vehicle dismissed and car returned without costs, driving privileges reinstated, and no jail time. This client was representing himself, facing a mandatory 6 months in jail, a three year revocation of his driving privileges, and the loss of his treasured vehicle. After six months of careful negotiations and strong efforts to reform himself, the client gets his car back, avoids so much as an HOUR in custody, and moves forward with his new baby and family intact. Hard to say what aspect of our work was responsible for this outcome, other than a relentless commitment to integrity-based advocacy, and carefully-managed relationships with judges, judicial staff, prosecutors and clerks. A great, great outcome. See More Case Results For more detailed information, please click on the links below: Mandatory Penalties Bail and Conditional Release Field Sobriety Tests Implied Consent Law Defenses License Consequences (IID and Limited License) Plate Impoundment Vehicle Forfeiture Miscellaneous DWI Laws North Star Criminal Defense – Proven Success in Fighting DWI Charges The Minnesota DWI attorneys at North Star Criminal Defense have nearly 30 combined years of successfully defending DWI charges of all degrees and throughout multiple jurisdictions. We know the law, the defenses, and the strategy necessary in order to obtain resolutions that avoid convictions and jail time. We have helped countless clients overcome these debilitating charges and get back on their feet.  If you have been accused of any type a DWI, you need to contact us right away. 2nd Degree DWI Expungement If you have a prior 2nd Degree DWI conviction from over four years ago and are looking to get that expunged off your record you can visit our DWI expungements page to see what options you may have to clear your record. We have experience expunging Minnesota DWI convictions all throughout the state, allowing our clients to move on with their lives. Even if you’re not yet eligible, it will be beneficial to talk to us as we can start walking you through the process of getting your DWI expunged once you are eligible. Read More

3rd Degree DWI Minnesota

3rd Degree DWI 3rd Degree DWI in Minnesota is a gross misdemeanor offense. It is charged as a 3rd degree DWI because there was one aggravating factor present at the time of the offense (a prior offense within the past 10 years or a reading above .16) or the defendant refused to submit to the chemical test. There are possible mandatory penalties and long-term monitoring that may apply. In addition, your license plates will be revoked, unless you refused on a first-time offense. The outcome will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In some, you may be able to get a Careless Driving – rather than a plea to a DWI – or a stay of imposition, but a plea to a 4th Degree DWI as a misdemeanor is also a positive, and more likely, outcome when facing gross misdemeanor consequences. Consequences The likely outcome will depend on why it’s a 3rd Degree DWI – i.e. it’s a second-time offense within 10 years, the reading was above .16, or it’s a refusal. Second Offense within Ten Years – If the 3rd Degree DWI charge stems from this aggravating factor, mandatory penalties come into play. Namely, statute requires the driver to serve 30 days, with 48 hours to be serve consecutively in local jail and the remaining 28 days to be served on house arrest. Despite this being a mandatory penalty, there is always room for negotiation. With a proper legal strategy and team to implement it, this mandatory penalty can be overcome to avoid the time in custody, for instance. .16 or more reading – A third degree DWI will be charged for first-time offenders who had elevated readings – i.e. twice the legal limit or more. There are no mandatory penalties. Often, the State attorney will want lengthier community service or even some jail time due to the high reading. But, like before, this is where a properly developed and implemented 3rd Degree DWI defense strategy can lead to very favorable results – such as a 4th Degree DWI plea, with a standard disposition to follow (no jail, minimal community service, and small fine). Refusal – A 3rd Degree DWI Refusal is similar to a situation in which the driver had a high reading. There are no mandatory penalties, but prosecutors often seek stiffer penalties than a standard first-time offense. This is overcome easily with the right strategy, as detailed before. Along with the criminal penalties, the collateral consequences are just as significant. The driver will lose their license for one-year. If it was a first-time refusal, the revocation period may be reduced to as little as 30- or 90-days if the driver was convicted of a misdemeanor 4th Degree DWI or 3rd Degree DWI Refusal, respectively. In addition, license plates may be impounded. Getting a fully valid license after the revocation period costs more than $700. These are the hidden costs associated with a DWI that make getting a 3rd Degree DWI attorney on your side immediately so critical. Finally, even though a 3rd Degree DWI is only a gross misdemeanor, it is still a criminal offense and will force you to reveal to future employers that you have been convicted of a crime. Having an attorney to represent you will give you a greater chance of not serving jail time, possibly even allow you to plea down to a 4th degree DWI, or a careless driving conviction, depending on the circumstances of the offense. Case Results To see just how successful our approach is, here are some representative case results: State v. N.H. Charges: 3rd Degree DWI – Gross Misdemeanor Resolution: Plea to an amended charge of 4th Degree DWI – Misdemeanor. This was a first-time offense, with an elevated reading of .20. The City’s policy of departing to a misdemeanor DWI on these types of cases is .18 – meaning, we had no business getting this agreement, per “policy”. But, the team at North Star understands policy can be overcome with the proper approach. Client was thrilled at the opportunity to get this misdemeanor result. State v. D.S. Charges: 3rd Degree DWI – Gross Misdemeanor Resolution: Plea to a Misdemeanor 4th Degree DWI. Client was charged with a 3rd Degree DWI because of a prior offense. Still, Mr. Gempeler was not deterred in fighting for and ultimately obtaining a plea agreement to a 4th Degree misdemeanor DWI. Such an outcome is almost unheard of. But it was earned after the correct counseling of a thoughtful client and a deft touch during negotiations. For a veteran, this was an absolutely critical outcome for his future. State v. S.C. Charge: 3rd Degree DWI Resolution: Plea to a 4th Degree DWI with a standard result. This is a terrific result for a client that registered nearly three-times the legal limit on his first-time DWI. Due to a proper strategy and a pro-active approach by the client, Mr. Adkins was able to secure an outcome that resulted in no further jail or community service time, a small fine, and minimal conditions during probation. This is a misdemeanor offense and the client is put in a position to succeed going forward. State v. A.B. Charge: 3rd Degree DWI, B-Card Restriction, Careless Driving, DAR Resolution: Guilty plea to misdemeanor Careless Driving, rest of charges were dismissed. Initial offer was to a gross misdemeanor DWI and for 90 days to be served in custody and via house arrest. Mr. Gempeler successfully moved the Court to suppress the blood test result due to a faulty warrant, leading to the dismissal of the DWI charge. After the Court ruled in his favor, the Defendant obtained the result he wanted – 1-year probation (not 4), less jail time (he only faces house arrest), and no DWI record. See More Case Results For more detailed information, please click on the links below: Mandatory Penalties Bail and Conditional Release Field Sobriety Tests Implied Consent Law Defenses License Consequences (IID and Limited License) Plate Impoundment Vehicle Forfeiture Miscellaneous DWI Laws North Star Criminal Defense – Proven Success in Fighting DWI Charges The Minnesota DWI attorneys at North Star Criminal Defense have nearly 30 combined years of successfully defending DWI charges of all degrees and throughout multiple jurisdictions. We know the law, the defenses, and the strategy necessary in order to obtain resolutions that avoid convictions and jail time. We have helped countless clients overcome these debilitating charges and get back on their feet.  If you have been accused of any type a DWI, you need to contact us right away. 3rd Degree DWI Expungement 1 in 7 Minnesotans has a DWI on their record, and 49% of all Minnesota DWI arrests are of first time offenders. This means that 3rd Degree DWI is a relatively common conviction for Minnesotans. If you have a prior 3rd Degree DWI conviction and are looking to get that expunged off your record you can visit our DWI expungements page to see what options you may have to clear your record. We have experience expunging Minnesota DWI convictions all throughout the state, allowing our clients to move on with their lives. Even if you’re not yet eligible, it will be beneficial to talk to us as we can start walking you through the process of getting your DWI expunged once you are eligible. Read More

4th Degree DWI Minnesota

4th Degree DWI 4th Degree DWI in Minnesota is a misdemeanor offense. This occurs when there are no aggravating factors – meaning, it is a first-time offense and the alcohol concentration was below .16. While many jurisdictions have “standard” offers for first-time offenders, these can be improved dramatically based upon a proper defense strategy. When we handle DWI’s, we take the time to understand the big picture and what is truly at stake for our clients because every case is unique and every client has unique needs that must dictate our approach to the case. Understanding this, we implement a two-prong approach. First, we, of course, diligently review the state’s evidence to determine whether there are any legal defenses – such as a stop issue or probable cause issue – worth fighting and asking for the Court’s review that can lead to a dismissal of the case. Second, we work with our clients to develop a plan to put our clients in the best position possible to obtain the most favorable plea deal. Proactive measures by our clients can lead to atypical results that truly allow our clients to succeed going forward. Through this approach, a standard offer to plead guilty as charge turns into a non-standard result, such as a careless driving (even on a .15 case for instance) or even a speeding ticket plea. Consequences Typically, a 4th Degree DWI conviction will result in 1-2 years of probation and/or a fine between $300-500, with the possibility of community work service and a requirement to complete a chemical dependency evaluation and follow any recommendations for substance abuse treatment or programming. Being placed on probation results in an additional probation fee of several hundred dollars. Even if a client decides to plead to a DWI, we are regularly successful in negotiating sentences that do not include community work service, minimizes the fine, and the client is not placed on supervised probation, but rather placed on unsupervised probation, which saves our clients significant money and the hassle associated with traditional probation. These may seem like small victories, but our clients are always appreciative, knowing that we have fought the entire time to get the best possible outcome. Beyond these criminal consequences, any conviction also results in a loss of license for 30 or 90 days. Case Results To see just how successful our approach is, here are some representative case results: State v. T.B. Charge: 4th Degree DWI Resolution: Client pled to a misdemeanor careless driving with no jail to serve, a minimum fine, and only one-year on probation to the Court. In addition, the client did not have to waive his fight in the implied consent case. Ultimately, the license revocation that automatically happens following a DWI was rescinded. The end result for the client – no DWI on both his criminal and driving records. This is a clean sweep, victory for the client. State v. T.S. Charge: 4th Degree DWI Resolution: Plea to Failing to Drive with Due Care. This is a prime example of how Mr. Gempeler is undeterred in seeking extraordinary results on routine cases. Client’s alcohol reading was .08. Immediately and predictably, the city’s offer was a careless driving, with an opportunity to fight the license revocation. Most attorneys grab this at the first hearing, sell their clients on this incredible outcome, and make a lot of money quickly and easily. We try harder, though. Utilizing what leverage existed from some legal issues, Mr. Gempeler artfully negotiated the failing to drive with due care plea. It pays to ensure you get the right team that will fight for the best possible outcome. State v. J.L. Charge: 4th Degree DWI Resolution: Plea to Careless Driving. The client was sentenced to no jail or community service and instead ordered to complete a chemical assessment – which he already did – and complete a MADD panel. The fine was minimal and the client preserved the right to fight the implied consent revocation. This is a rare result. For an active military service member, this result was critical to get him reinstated. See More Case Results For more detailed information, please click on the links below: Mandatory Penalties Bail and Conditional Release Field Sobriety Tests Implied Consent Law Defenses License Consequences (IID and Limited License) Plate Impoundment Vehicle Forfeiture Miscellaneous DWI Laws North Star Criminal Defense – Proven Success in Fighting DWI Charges The Minnesota DWI attorneys at North Star Criminal Defense have nearly 30 combined years of successfully defending DWI charges of all degrees and throughout multiple jurisdictions. We know the law, the defenses, and the strategy necessary in order to obtain resolutions that avoid convictions and jail time. We have helped countless clients overcome these debilitating charges and get back on their feet.  If you have been accused of any type a DWI, you need to contact us right away. 4th Degree DWI Expungement 1 in 7 Minnesotans has a DWI on their record, and 49% of all Minnesota DWI arrests are of first time offenders. This means that 4th Degree DWI is a relatively common conviction for Minnesotans. If you have a prior 4th Degree DWI conviction and are looking to get that expunged off your record you can visit our DWI expungements page to see what options you may have to clear your record. We have experience expunging Minnesota DWI convictions all throughout the state, allowing our clients to move on with their lives. Even if you’re not yet eligible, it will be beneficial to talk to us as we can start walking you through the process of getting your DWI expunged once you are eligible. Read More

Limited License

Minneapolis DUI Lawyers A limited license – also known as a work permit- allows a driver whose driving privileges have been revoked due to a DUI conviction or implied consent violation to drive pursuant to certain limitations. A limited license is only available to a small subset of DUI defendants – those that do not have any priors and either the defendant had an alcohol concentration level below 0.16 or refused to submit to any breath, urine, or blood testing. If these parameters are not met, the defendant must enroll in the ignition interlock program. To be eligible for a limited license, a person needs to prove that: Their livelihood or attendance at a chemical dependency treatment or counseling programs depends on the use of the limited license; The use of the limited license by a homemaker is necessary to prevent the substantial disruption of the education, medical, or nutritional needs of the family; or Attendance at a postsecondary institution of education by an enrolled student of that institution depends upon the use of the limited license. In order to prove your eligibility, the application for a limited license requires a showing that you are unable to rideshare or take public transportation as an alternative. The limited license will have specific conditions and limitations on your driving privileges. For instance, you will be limited on the specific times you can drive, where you can drive, and for how many hours each day and week you can drive. The maximum number of driving hours each week can be 60 – but, your limited license will specify how many you can drive. And you must pick one day each week in which you cannot drive. There is a waiting period before which you may apply for a limited license. It is 15-days, which starts after the 7-day temporary license expires. During this waiting period, though, you may start – but cannot finish – the application process: Pass a written test that is related to drinking and driving issues. Study chapters 7 and 8 of the Driver’s Safety Manual in advance. Taking this test can be done before the revocation period even begins. Pay a reinstatement fee of $680.00. Complete a license reinstatement application and pay a new license fee. This new license application is where you will need to show that a rideshare or public transportation is not a reasonable alternative. Upon completing the above and when your license is revoked and the waiting period has expired, you apply for the limited license and meet with an evaluator or administrator from the DPS Office at your testing site for approval of the limited license. Be sure to bring copies of your test score. You should be aware that violating any condition or limitation of the limited license or failing to have it on your possession when driving is a misdemeanor offense. Read More

Minnesota DWI Laws

St. Paul DWI Attorneys There are a number of various DWI laws that are simply hard to categorize among the other pages devoted to the complex DWI laws. So what follows is a list of miscellaneous, yet important, DWI laws. Length of Probation Courts are authorized to stay execution of a criminal sentence and, instead, place a defendant on probation, subject to terms and conditions. The stayed sentence is available for all levels of crime, including felonies. A statutory-mandated condition, though, is that the defendant must submit to the level of care recommended in a chemical dependency assessment, which is also required by statutes (see below). The length of probation depends on the level of offense: misdemeanor DWIs are up to 2 years, gross misdemeanors are up to 6 years, and felonies are either 4 years or the maximum length of a prison sentence – whichever is longer. Penalty Assessment If the defendant is convicted of a DWI with an alcohol concentration above .20, the Court may impose a penalty assessment of up to $1,000.00 in addition to any fine. While atypical, this is still an assessment any defendant faced with a high reading should be aware of and should fight if a prosecutor seeks to impose this penalty. Evidence at Trial When prosecuting a driving while impaired charge (the charge not predicated on whether the defendant had an alcohol concentration in excess of .08 as measured at the time or within two hours), the Court may admit into evidence the following: Evidence that the defendant had an alcohol concentration above .04 is relevant in determining whether the defendant was under the influence of alcohol; Evidence that the defendant refused to submit to the implied consent test is (perhaps) relevant; and Evidence of implied consent tests taken more than two-hours after the alleged violation. Aiding and Abetting While rarely seen, any person who attempts to commit, conspires to commit, or aids or abets in any violation of the DWI laws may be prosecuted for that offense. Similarly, any person who causes another person to violate any DWI law may also be prosecuted for that offense. For more on Minnesota’s DWI law, click here. Read More

License Consequences

St. Paul License Suspension Lawyers After the implied consent law is invoked, you will have a revoked license and you will receive paperwork from the officers advising you when the revocation period begins. The duration of the revocation is entirely dependent upon the circumstances – namely, your alcohol concentration level, your age, and the number of qualified prior driving incidents on your record within the previous ten years. Revocation Periods To give you some guidance in trying to figure out the duration of your revocation, the following is a general overview of the revocation periods. For purposes of this exercise, we are assuming there was no accident, injury, or death involved in the underlying DWI crime: First Offense Alcohol level between 0.08 and 0.159 – 90 days. If you plead guilty to a 4th Degree DWI, this will administratively drop to 30 days, so long as there was no child endangerment or any prior qualified impaired driving incidents, regardless of how far back it goes. If you are under 21 years of age, the revocation period is 180 days. 0.16+ – 1 year. Refusal – 1 year. If you plead to the refusal, it will be reduced to 90 days. And if you plead to a 4th Degree DWI charge, it will be reduced to 30 days. Same caveats about child endangerment and any qualified priors apply, as explained above. Second Offense within 10 years Between 0.08 and 0.159 – 1 year 0.16+ – 2 years Refusal – 2 years. But, if you plead to the refusal, the revocation period will be reduced to 1 year. Upon the expiration of the revocation period, you must pass an alcohol/controlled substance-related knowledge test, pay a $680 reinstatement fee, and apply for a new Minnesota license. Third Offense within 10 years Regardless of the alcohol concentration reading or you refused the test, your revocation period will be 3-years. And the first year of the revocation period will be on a limited license, while the last two years may be on a restricted license – i.e. must drive a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device. Your license will also be cancelled as inimical to public safety, which requires completion of a rehabilitation program in order to regain driving privileges. Fourth Offense within 10 years 4-year revocation period and your license is cancelled as inimical to public safety. Fifth Offense within 10 years 6-year revocation period and your license is cancelled as inimical to public safety. As stated previously, this is intended merely as a guide and in no way should be used to determine your actual revocation period. The best way to do that is to contact a Minnesota DWI attorney for a consultation or to contact DVS. Read More

DWI Defenses

St. Paul DWI Defense Attorneys It is critical to get a DWI attorney that knows the ins-and-outs of aggressively asserting legal  DWI defenses on your behalf. While many may think DWI’s are slam-dunk cases for the State, that’s only true insofar as the defense attorney is willing to allow that. At worst, knowing the available defenses and when to be assertive with them can be great leverage to negotiate a resolution that is much more favorable to you and limits the consequences you would otherwise face. Were you driving or operating the vehicle? This may seem like a ridiculous question to ask. But, you’d be surprised at how often the question of whether the defendant was actually the driver or in control of the vehicle comes up in DWI litigation. Minnesota courts have developed a very loose interpretation of the phrase “in control of” in order to find those not actually driving their vehicle at the time of the arrest to still be arrested and charged with DWI. Circumstantial evidence then becomes huge and your defense necessitates an aggressive approach to fighting DWI charges. Was the stop legal? Before an officer may stop you, he or she must have “reasonable suspicion” that you committed a crime – including traffic offenses – or that criminal activity is afoot. Officers are known to work backwards by creating a basis for the stop after the DWI arrest has occurred in order to legally justify the arrest. Police reports, and any and all video or audio, must be scrutinized. Challenging the stop – and proving successful – can lead to the charges being dismissed. Was there “Probable Cause” for the arrest? The officer must have probable cause in order to effectuate the arrest and request the defendant to submit to further testing in order to determine the alcohol concentration level. Probable cause is determined based upon a review of all of the noted indicia of intoxication. This means that in almost all police reports, the officer will note some combination of the following indicia of intoxication: slurred speech, bloodshot and watery eyes, an odor of alcohol emanating from the driver or the vehicle, coordination issues – such as fumbling with identification, loss of balance when walking, and any admissions. In addition, the officer will likely request the driver to perform field sobriety tests: HGN test (an eye test), walk-and-turn, and one-legged stand. Finally, the officer will likely seek the driver to provide a breath sample on the side of the road, called a preliminary breath test. After gathering all of this information through these requests – which the driver can rightfully not comply with – the officer will likely believe he or she has developed enough facts to support a probable cause finding and arrest the driver. This is not automatic, though, and there are ways to challenge the probable cause finding – such as examining whether the officer conducted the field sobriety tests properly. Invoke the Implied Consent Law properly? Upon arrest for probably cause DWI, Minnesota law requires the officer to read the “Implied Consent Advisory” at the time he or she requests the driver to submit to a chemical test. The Advisory explains – in theory – to the driver that refusing to submit to a chemical test is a separate crime (DWI – Refusal) and that they have the right to consult with an attorney prior to deciding whether to take the test or not. If the driver requests to speak with an attorney, the officer must give the driver a reasonable amount of time and the ability to contact an attorney. The officer may or may not leave the room to allow the driver to speak freely with the attorney. And, regardless, these conversations are likely audio and/or video-taped. So, if you are in this position and talk to an attorney, understand that this is not a confidential communication. Affirmative Defenses by Statute The DWI law – Minn. Stat. § 169A – also outlines two affirmative defenses that the defendant may prove by a preponderance of the evidence: post-driving consumption of alcohol and impairment caused by prescription drugs. See Minn. Stat. § 169A.46. For post-driving consumption, the defendant must prove that the impairment resulted from his or her consumption of alcohol after driving. Typically, this requires expert testimony that the impairment – i.e. having an alcohol concentration level in excess of 0.08 – resulted only from the amount of alcohol consumed after driving and that the alcohol concentration level at the time of driving was below the legal standard. Any defendant raising this defense must give proper notice of doing so to the State. In order to argue that the impairment was caused by the consumption of prescription drugs, the driver must demonstrate that they used the prescription drugs pursuant to a prescription and that said use caused the impairment. Yet, this affirmative defense does not apply to an “under the influence” charge or in the implied consent setting. Additional Defenses Finally, any legal analysis should also include: (1) whether or not the chemical test performed was conducted properly and that the test results were reliable and valid, and (2) was the request for additional testing honored properly by the officer. If you are charged with a DWI, it is imperative that you get an experienced and aggressive Minnesota DWI attorney to explore the viability of these defenses for your case. Read More

Implied Consent Law

Minnesota Implied Consent Lawyers What most people don’t realize when they get charged with a DWI is that there is a separate and equally important legal battle that must be waged on their behalf. Under the Minnesota Implied Consent Law, a driver charged with a DWI will lose their license almost immediately and have a limited time-frame by which they must challenge this loss of license. And if they don’t do so in a timely fashion, the driver will lose their license for a lengthy period of time and have an alcohol-related loss of license that will be used to enhance future DWI charges – and this occurs, regardless of what happens in the criminal matter. Overview A brief overview of the Implied Consent Law is necessary. Pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 169A.51, any person who drives a car in this state impliedly consents to a chemical test of their breath, urine, or blood for purposes of determining the presence of alcohol or a controlled substance. This test only occurs after a police officer has probable cause to believe a person was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. While the statute uses the term “consent”, it is more appropriate to call it compulsion because failure to submit to a test results in another crime that may be more serious than the underlying DWI crime. Despite the prospect of facing further criminal prosecution for not outright consenting to the test, the Minnesota Supreme Court has upheld this law and it is the law of the State – for now at least. Implied Consent Law The implied consent law is invoked – i.e. triggered – when an officer has probable cause to believe the person was driving under the influence and one of the following exists: The person was lawfully arrested for DWI; The person was involved in an accident that resulted in personal or property damage; The person refused the portable breath test (PBT) on the side of the road; or The breath test on the side of the road revealed an alcohol concentration above 0.08. When the implied consent law is invoked, the driver will be offered either (1) a breath test, or (2) a urine or blood test. If the officer offers a urine test, he/she must also offer a blood test, and vice versa. No such requirement exists when a breath test is offered. Prior to administering the test, the officer must read the driver the Implied Consent Advisory. In almost all cases, the officer will read from a form and mark that he/she read the paragraph and will note your responses. It is critical that this advisory be read fully and correctly in order to ensure the validity of your alleged “consent.” At this point, either the driver agrees to take the test or refuses. A refusal occurs when the driver says they will not take the test and through the conduct of the driver – such as by not providing enough air during a breath test. If the driver refuses, no test will be taken and the driver will be charged with both a DWI – based on conduct and not any test result – and a DWI-Refusal. The refusal charge is a gross misdemeanor crime, which carries a maximum penalty of 365 days in jail and a $3,000 fine. If the driver takes the test and fails it – by having an alcohol concentration above 0.08 – then the driver will be charged with a DWI and facing almost immediately license consequences. The level of the criminal charge will vary depending on the test result, number of priors, and/or the presence of children in the vehicle. Judicial Review One of the most immediate consequences of a DWI is the loss of license. Under the Implied Consent Law, seven days after the date of the alleged offenses, the driver’s license will be revoked for a lengthy period of time. The driver has only 30 days to petition a court for judicial review. This is a hard deadline that cannot be extended. A petition for judicial review results in the creation of a civil case that can occur at the same time as the underlying DWI case. Minn. Stat. § 169A.53 outlines the petition and service requirements. But, what’s important to understand is that the issues for any review hearing is limited to the ten issues listed under the statute: Did the peace officer have probable cause to believe the person was driving, operating, or in physical control of a motor vehicle or commercial motor vehicle in violation of section Minn. Stat. § 169A.20 (DWI)? Was the person lawfully placed under arrest for a DWI? Was the person involved in a motor vehicle accident or collision resulting in property damage, personal injury, or death? Did the person refuse to take a PBT? If the screening test was administered, did the test indicate an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more? At the time of the request for the test, did the peace officer inform the person of the person’s rights and the consequences of taking or refusing the test – i.e. read the implied consent advisory? Did the person refuse to permit the test? If a test was taken by a person driving, operating, or in physical control of a motor vehicle, did the test results indicate at the time of testing: an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more; or the presence of a controlled substance listed in Schedule I or II or its metabolite, other than marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols? If a test was taken by a person driving, operating, or in physical control of a commercial motor vehicle, did the test results indicate an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more at the time of testing? Was the testing method used valid and reliable and were the test results accurately evaluated? Did the person prove the defense of necessity? Did the person prove the defense of controlled substance use in accordance with a prescription? Finally, it is an affirmative defense for the petitioner to prove that their refusal to permit the test was based upon reasonable grounds. Any issues outside of these are not eligible to be heard by the Court. The overarching issue basically boils down to: is the rescission of the license legal? There is one hearing in which the State will call the arresting officer and any other witnesses to testify and carry its burden of proof. And because this is a civil matter, the State only needs to prove its case by a preponderance of the evidence. The outcome in the implied consent court has no impact on the underlying criminal matter – and vice versa. This means that if you are successful in getting key evidence suppressed and the case dismissed as a result in the criminal arena, you still have to go to civil court and succeed on the same issue in order to avoid having an alcohol-related loss of license on your record. Simply put – a DWI has two arenas that need to be fought with equal vigor: DWI court and Implied Consent court. And a victory in one doesn’t mean you will be victorious in the other. Rather ridiculous system, right? Read More

License Plate Impoundment

Minnesota DWI License Plate Impoundment Another collateral consequence to a DWI in Minnesota is license plate impoundment  Unless it was your first-time offense and your alcohol concentration is below .16 or you refused the test a license plate impoundment order will either be issued at the time of the offense giving rise to the impoundment or sent via mail soon thereafter. Plates subject to the impoundment order include the plates of the vehicle used in the commission of the offense, as well as plates for any other vehicles owned by, registered, or leased in the name of the violator, including those registered jointly or leased in the name of the violator and another person. Most times, the plates of the vehicle used in the commission of the offense will be seized by the police at the time of the offense. But, the violator must surrender all applicable plates to the local police, sheriff’s department, or State Patrol, within 7 days after the impoundment order is issued. There is a temporary vehicle permit for 7 days if the violator is the owner or 45 days if the owner is not the violator to allow time to for the owner to move the vehicle to a safe place off the road while the plates are impounded or until special registration plates (“whiskey plates”) are received. Administrative Review  At any time during the period of revocation, the owner may request an administrative review of the impoundment. There are two scenarios where an innocent owner may get the plate impoundment order rescinded. First, the owner must provide a sworn statement (see here for the form) stating that (1) the violator had a valid license at the time of the incident; (2) the owner is the registered owner, and current owner and possessor of the vehicle; (3) the date on which the violator obtained the vehicle from the owner; (4) the addresses of the owner and violator when the vehicle was obtained from the owner; (5) the owner was not a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the incident; and (6) the owner knows the violator may not drive a vehicle without a valid license. Second, when the violator did not have a valid license at the time of incident, the owner must make a report to local law enforcement before the violation stating that the vehicle was taken from the owner’s possession or was being used without permission. Proof of making this report is necessary. And failing to do so will likely result in the State upholding the plate impoundment, regardless of the owner truly being an innocent owner. Depending on the case, letters from the owner and violator regarding the circumstances that led to the impoundment order may be beneficial and can be submitted for review. The commissioner has 15 days following the request to issue its written answer to the request. If you are successful, the commissioner will rescind the plate impoundment order and authorize the issuance of new plates to the registered owner at no cost, so long as the registered owners driving privileges were not revoked as a result of a plate impoundment violation. Judicial Review  An owner may also petition the court for judicial review of the plate impoundment order. This must be done within 30 days of receipt of the notice of the order for impoundment. And this can occur simultaneous to a request for administrative review. The petition must include your full name, date of birth, driver’s license number, date of the plate impoundment violation, name of the violator, and the law enforcement agency that issued the plate impoundment order. The petition must specify the grounds upon which the petitioner seeks rescission of the plate impoundment order. And it must include proof of service of a copy of the petition on the commissioner. Grounds for the petition are limited to certain issues, listed in Minn. Stat. 169A.60, subd. 10(c). Generally speaking, the issues include, but are not limited to: whether there is a legal basis for the plate impoundment, whether the officer had a basis to perform a stop, and whether the officer had probable cause to effect the arrest.. The judicial review hearing must be held at the same time as any judicial review of the person’s license revocation, if there is one. Importantly, the filing of the petition for judicial review does not stay the impoundment order, unless the hearing is not conducted within 60 days after the filing of the petition for judicial review. The court has 14 days following the hearing to issue its order. Whiskey Plates  While the plate impoundment order is in effect, the registered owner of the vehicle may apply for special registration plates – commonly referred to as “Whiskey Plates” because they have a special series of numbers or letters that make them readily identifiable to police officers. Whiskey Plates are essentially available when the registered owner or violator has driving privileges during the impoundment period. There is a $50 fee for these plates. Sale of Vehicle Subject to Plate Impoundment Order  There are restrictions on a registered owners ability to sell a vehicle subject to the plate impoundment order. The following must be demonstrated to the commissioner in order for the sale to be valid: The sale is for valid consideration; The purchaser is not a family or household member of the registered owner; The purchaser signs a sworn statement with the commissioner stating: The purchaser is not a family or household member of the violator; The purchaser understands that the vehicle is subject to the impoundment order; and The purchaser understand that it is a crime to file a false statement or to allow the previous registered owner to drive, operate, or be in control of the vehicle during the impoundment period; and All elements of Minn. Stat. 168A.10 (transfer of interest by owner) are satisfied. Penalties for Violations  It is a misdemeanor crime to (1) fail to comply with the impoundment order in any manner; (2) file a false statement, as described above; (3) operate a vehicle subject to the plate impoundment order without special registration plates; (4) fail to notify the commissioner of the impoundment order when requesting new plates; (5) operate any vehicle during the impoundment period if the defendant is subject to a plate impoundment order, unless the vehicle is employer-owned and is not required to be equipped with an ignition interlock device, or has special registration plates, and the person is valid to drive; or (6) to allow the previous registered owner to operate the vehicle after purchase and signing a sworn statement, as described above. For more on Minnesota’s DWI law, click here. Read More