10 Things to Know about DWI

A DWI charge is always costly, and often scary. In addition to out-of-pocket expenses, a DWI charge will have hidden costs, take up your time, and add substantial unneeded stress to your life.

The most important thing you can do is to plan ahead. Decide how you will get home – whether by designated driver, taxi, or public transit – before you have your first drink, and stick to your plan. If you have any question as to whether you are ok to drive, it is safest to assume you are not and to make other arrangements.

Additionally, there are some common misperceptions about Minnesota’s DWI laws which can get you in trouble. To clear up some of those misperceptions, here are 10 things every Minnesotan should know about DWI:

1. You do not actually need to be driving to get a DWI. Minnesota law makes it a crime to “drive, operate, or be in physical control” of a motor vehicle while under the influence or over the limit. You can be in physical control of a vehicle if you sitting or sleeping in a vehicle, even if you did not drive it. If you will be drinking, consider leaving your car keys at home or having your designated driver hold them for you.

2. You do not need to be drunk to get a DWI. Minnesota law makes it a crime to drive, operate, or be in physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. You can be buzzed and get a DWI. You can be high on pills or drugs and get a DWI. Minnesota law also makes it a crime to drive, operate, or be in physical control of a motor vehicle while having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more or having any amount of a Schedule I or Schedule II drug or its metabolite in your system, whether you are feeling the effects or not.

3. It is a crime to refuse to take a chemical test. If the officer has sufficient grounds to invoke the implied consent law and you decline to submit to testing, you can be charged with the crime of refusing to submit to testing. In many cases, the consequences of refusing to take a test are more severe than the consequences of failing the test. But stay posted – the issue of test refusal is presently being considered by the Minnesota Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court. You do have the right to contact an attorney before deciding whether or not to submit to testing, and should exercise that right.

4. You have the right to a second independent test. The officer does not need to tell you this or help you obtain an independent test, but cannot hinder you. It is up to you to make the necessary arrangements, including having someone come to the jail to take a sample from you if you are being held.

5. You do not have to discuss the facts with the police. If you are pulled over, the officer will probably ask you questions, including whether you know why you were stopped, where you are coming from, and how much you have had to drink. You do not have to answer these questions, and can instead tell the officer you are exercising your right to remain silent. Until you are placed under arrest, the officer can ask you questions without reading you your Miranda rights, but you still do have the right to remain silent.

6. You are not required to participate in field sobriety testing. The purpose of these tests is for the officer to determine whether there is probable cause to arrest you for DWI. If you decline to participate, the officer will likely arrest you based on his or her observations thus far, but the prosecutor will not have any video of you failing roadside tests to show a jury.

7. You only have 30 days to challenge the order revoking your drivers license, regardless of when you have your first scheduled court appearance. You cannot wait to see what happens in court before deciding whether to fight for your license to drive.

8. There can be serious consequences to allowing the wrong person to drive you car. Under certain circumstances, if you let someone use your car and they get a DWI, the state may attempt to impound your license plates or forfeit your vehicle. There is also potential for civil liability or insurance problems. Only allow persons you know well and trust to drive your car.

9. A DWI case can impact international travel. A conviction is likely to make you inadmissible to Canada. It is not uncommon for people attempting to enter Canada – whether for tourism, hunting, fishing, or business – to be turned away at the border. If you are not a United States citizen, it could impact your immigration status, including your right to remain in or return to this country or your ability to become a citizen.

10. An experienced DWI attorney can help you. From the outside, DWI cases often appear cut and dry – especially if you know you made a mistake and are willing to accept some consequences for it. A defense attorney will review the facts and evidence in your case in light of the applicable law, and be your advocate throughout the process, putting you in a position to make informed and considered decisions. The attorney can ensure that your rights were and continue to be respected and that any consequences you face are in accordance with the law and proportionate to the severity of your particular case and circumstances.

About the Author

Karen Mohrlant is an experienced DWI defense attorney. She takes pride in a thorough and detail-oriented approach, and crafts her representation based on each client’s unique needs, circumstances, and priorities.

Impaired driving is dangerous, and is responsible for too many injuries and fatalities. DWI penalties can be harsh, in part to prevent impaired driving. If you will be drinking, or will be around others who are drinking, please put safety first. But if you find yourself charged with DWI, seek immediate help from an experienced DWI defense attorney.

If you have been charged with a DWI, contact us today at 612.333.7309 to discuss your case. 

If you are facing a criminal charge, you need professional, personal representation. Our team of attorneys will offer you Straight Talk and Honest Answers about your case.