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Minnesota DWI Overview

Minnesota DWI / DUI Defense Information

Fighting your DWI / DUI charges in the Twin Cities

If you have been charged with a DWI or related traffic offense in Minnesota, you are probably already getting solicited by dozens of attorneys in the mail and getting "advice" from your friends and family about what to do next. Be careful; there is a lot of misinformation floating around out there and I can't tell you how many times I have saved people from making a terrible decision based on bad information. While the web provides a ton of information, it can be hard to know what information is reliable, up to date, and applicable to your situation.

The single best way to get information specific to your situation is to take advantage of my free consultation. You can call me, arrange a meeting in my office, send an email, or a text message and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

The following information is not meant to be legal advice, as the real key to giving legal advice is understanding the unique circumstances around your situation.

DWI in Minnesota, An Overview

Minnesota's DWI law is complex. In short, it states that it is a crime to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. It defines "influence" as being over .08 percent alcohol concentration. It also states that it is a crime to refuse to submit to a chemical test. The two most common approaches to defending a DWI charge are to either make a case that the police had no right to pull you over or attempt to gather evidence against you, or that the results of the field sobriety test, or the breath, blood or urine testing done at the station was innaccurate or flawed in some way.

Police Need a Reason to Pull You Over

The police do not have the right to pull you over on a hunch, or because of the appearance of your car. The new seat belt law is just one of many legitimate reasons an officer can pull you over. However, in the interest of your constitutional rights, the police need to prove that there was good reason to initially stop you. Furthermore, even if you're stopped for a good, but relatively simple, reason (ie seat belt, light out, etc.) there is an increasing burden on the police as they deprive you of your freedom by asking unnecessary questions and "fishing" for a reason to investigate you further.

Questionable test results

In recent DWI cases in Minnesota, all three of the testing methods (blood, urine and breath) have been successfully called into question. Evidence surrounding the driver's BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) is typically the driving force in the prosecution's case against you, so if there were questionable circumstances around your test it is something that an experienced DWI attorney may be able to use in your defense.

Minnesota DWI Penalties

There is a wide range of penalties for DWI in Minnesota. If you are found guilty, even as a first-time offender the penalties from the state can be as high as $1,000 and 90 days in jail. Penalties for First-Degree DWI are as high as $14,000 and up to 7 years in jail.

The degree of DWI you are charged with in Minnesota relies on any prior test refusals or DWIs, as well as any aggravating factors. There are three Aggravating factors defined by Minnesota DWI law:

  • a qualified prior impaired driving incident within the preceding ten years;
  • an alcohol concentration of .20 or more upon arrest (but not for first-degree DWI); and
  • the presence of a child under age 16 in the vehicle, if more than 36 months younger than the offender (but not for first-degree DWI).

If you have questions about your DWI arrest, pending charges, or appeal, contact the law offices of W. Harvey Skees.

For additional information about DWI / DUI and Criminal defense in Minnesota, see our articles page.