Frequently asked questions about DWI & DUi in Minnesota
DWI and DUI questions answered by St Cloud Criminal Defense Attorney David Buchin
The Difference Between a DWI and a DUI in Minnesota
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI) are similar in a lot of ways. Both terms refer to operating a motor vehicle while having alcohol in your system. However, they differ in other key areas as well, including penalties, evidentiary requirements, and defenses available. Even the appearance of these offenses on paper – with their slightly different spellings and capitalization – is enough for an experienced attorney to spot the slight differences between them. To begin with, driving while intoxicated (DWI) is simply operating a car or any other vehicle that has been driven by someone else while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In contrast, driving under the influence is operating a car or any other vehicle with alcohol present in your body; it’s what’s known as “self-driving” when you’re not paying attention to your actions.
What Is a DWI in Minnesota?
In Minnesota, driving while intoxicated (DWI) is simply operating a car or any other vehicle that has been driven while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This state law is Michigan’s version of “implied consent.” In other words, you’ve given your consent to get tested when a police officer suspects you’re under the influence. So, it’s the same as being “officer-detected.” In Minnesota, DWI is a Gross misdemeanor if you have a BAC of 0.08% or higher. It’s a Felony if you have a BAC of 0.16 or higher. You’re also guilty of a Gross misdemeanor if you have any detectable amount of marijuana in your system.
How Do Law Enforcement Officers Prove DWI in Minnesota?
The key to “officer-detected” implied consent in Minnesota is a chemical test result. This is done by swabbing inside your cheek for DNA (or for breath for a blood test). The swab is then tested by a lab to determine if you’re under the influence. If the test comes up positive, you’re guilty of a DWI. However, the state of Minnesota doesn’t require law enforcement to prove that you were driving while under the influence. Instead, they need only show that you had alcohol in your system and that you were the person who was behind the wheel. This means that you don’t even have to have been driving erratically or dangerously to be convicted of a DWI in Minnesota.
Driving Under the Influence in Minnesota
If you’re convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in Minnesota, you’ll have to face harsh penalties and consequences. The state law on this topic is simple: you can’t operate a car or any other vehicle with alcohol in your system. Driving under the influence is a Misdemeanor if your BAC is 0.08% or above. If it’s 0.16% or higher, you’re guilty of a Felony.
Defenses to a DWI Charge in Minnesota
There are many ways to fight a DWI charge, including challenging the admissibility of the evidence against you at trial, and raising a defense of “intoxication” or “innocence.” One common example of this is when a person is driving after having a single alcoholic beverage – or even after having a few drinks. In this case, Minnesota law (like most states) considers these to be “impaired” driving. So, a person who has had even a small amount of alcohol could successfully argue that they weren’t operating a car under the influence.
DUI Penalties and Sentencing Guidelines in Minnesota
Driving under the influence is a Misdemeanor in Minnesota if you have a BAC of 0.08% or above. If you’re convicted of a first-time DWI, you’ll be subject to a maximum sentence of up to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine. If you’re sentenced to probation, you’ll be required to attend alcohol education classes and complete 24 hours of community service. The court may also order you to pay for a chemical dependency evaluation (CDE), treatment, or both. A second DWI conviction comes with a harsher penalty. It’s a Gross misdemeanor and you’ll be subject to up to a two-year sentence in jail and a $3,000 fine. You’ll also be subject to a one-year license revocation. A third or subsequent DWI conviction is a Gross misdemeanor and you’ll be subject to up to a five-year sentence in jail and a $5,000 fine. You’ll also be subject to a three-year license revocation.
The Differences Between a DWI and a DUI are subtle
Maintaining a clean driving record is extremely important, especially if you have large amounts of money or valuables in your car at any given time. If you’re convicted of a DWI, your license will be revoked for up to a year and you’ll have to pay a heavy fine, as well as take mandatory classes on the dangers of driving while under the influence. The best way to protect yourself is to hire an experienced Minnesota DUI attorney. A skilled attorney can help you navigate the complex legal system and lessen the risk of facing a DWI charge by challenging the reliability of the breath or blood test results and the admissibility of evidence.
Disclaimer: No information provided on this website should be perceived as legal advice. The content of this website is only intended to provide general information. Only the establishment of an attorney-client relationship with Buchin Law Office can lead to the inception of legal advice from any member of the office team.
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