Thursday, March 31, 2011

Arrests Don't Always Mean Convictions - Part 2

Sometimes you have to keep fighting. If you lose at trial, you take your case to the court of appeals. If that court doesn't get it - then you take your arguments to the state's highest court.  As this story points out, sometimes you have to keep shouting until someone will listen.


Because if the cops have failed to do their job - within the rules established by the authors of the Constitution - then your arrest will not stand and you should go free.

Granted, this takes time, effort - and (all too often - a lot of) money. But, if your not guilty - you want to be vindicated - right?


I think most people would agree - the sooner the better.

One way to ensure an earlier success than this poor young lady is to hire an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney to look into your case for you. He or she should bring an extensive knowledge of what the government can and cannot do - and then review everything that happened to you through that lens; analyzing the police investigation, your arrest and even the prosecutor's handling of your case.

If it can be determined that something improper happened - like a bad stop or search , if your property was illegally seized or if your Constitutional rights were violated, your lawyer should seek to get the court to dismiss your case or ask the government to reduce the charges against you.

Sometimes that will happen before the case goes to trial - and other times it comes later --- but if you have the facts on your side - then law should follow. Hopefully that will happen sooner - rather than later.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Who's Watching the Watchers?


Let me see if I have this straight ... the government can prosecute you - and when doing so it can keep certain, key forensic evidence from you, your attorney, and the Court --- evidence that shows you to be innocent - and in the end they will not be held accountable for that?

(Oh, did I fail to mention that as a result of their 'illegal' actions - you were convicted, sent to prison, placed on death row and at one point were mere days from being executed.)

Well, according to the United States' Supreme Court - the answer is Yes!

Granted, the exclamation point is mine - as far as I could ascertain, there were no such marks in the Court's opinion.

Having had served as a prosecutor, I understand the need to protect government employees from their own  unintentional stupidity. But, that does not appear an apt description of what went on here - no matter what the majority of the Supreme Court would have you believe - this was not an isolated incident or just a little negligence.  Rather, what this looks like to me was an act of evidence suppression continued over several years and appears to have involved bad judgement by not just one attorney but (rather) a number of individuals in the prosecutor’s office.

The sad truth is prosecutorial misconduct goes on - someplaceeveryday - and, although not always leading to a result like that in Mr. Thompson's case, it harms not only the specific object of the governmet's bad act ---  it also hurts everyone of us.  

So, what's the result of the Supreme Court's holding?

Besides giving its (none too subtle) approval to misbehaving prosecutors, what I believe the justices in the majority failed to appreciate is that bad cops, bad lawyers, bad judges and bad convictions all have the force and effect of erroding our confidence in the system as a whole. 

Maybe it is the kool-aid drinker in me that believes that this whole thing (ie., society) "works" because we all blindly believe a couple of maxims. One of the biggest of those being - that there is justice inside the court room and that rather than sending one innocent man to prison we would set one-hundred guilty men free.

Well, after this - maybe I'm indulging in the wrong beverage?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fair Play?

As the esteemed Mr. Ward rightly asserts in this article - and any client should know - defense attorneys have an "absolute right" to request reassignment if they don't believe a judge can be fair.

As a matter of fact, I'll take it one further - as a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney, it is my overriding responsibility to do the best that I can do for my client - and if that means that I know a judge is not going to give my him or her a fair shake - then I have a duty to remove that judge.

If the government is going to come after you - if they are seeking to take away your rights and freedoms, to fine you huge sums of money, and to possibly do harm to your reputation and to your future - then the least that they can do is to allow my client and I to have their case decided out on a level playing field. To do otherwise, cheapens justice for all of us.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Arrests Don't Always Mean Convictions

Although riddled with language and concepts that only a lawyer (and/or his mother) could love, this recent opinion from the Minnesota Court of Appeals demonstrates that when the government falls down on the job (and fails to respect your constitutional rights) then - even though you've been arrested and charged - you should not --- and cannot --- be convicted.   

Remember, just because you've been stopped by the police and arrested --- your case does not end there. You have rights. and if the government failed respect them - ie., operate within the confines of the United State's Constitution - then your case should be dismissed.

Never accept defeat. If you have been arrested, you owe it to yourself to speak to an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney about your case.  He or she can analyze the government's tactics and schemes and see if they've done their duty properly. If the police have failed to act in such a manner, you owe it to yourself, and to your fellow citizens, to ensure that they don't get away with it.

As a former prosecutor, I understand that if the government is going to hold others accountable - first, they need to account for themselves. Here, the court said the police went too far. Agree or not with the outcome, reasonable people should respect that the greater good was served in this case.

If you have a second today - thank your forefathers for the foresight to provide us with protections against those who've been sworn to protect us - long live the 4th Amendment!

Friday, March 25, 2011

DWI Consequences - The Non-Criminal Ones

The criminal, civil and emotional consequences of a DWI arrest (and conviction) can be far reaching. The State of Minnesota, apparently expressing its rage at a certain lack of social responsibility, is increasingly levying stiffer criminal penalties on offenders - including assessing HUGE fines and LONG jail sentences. In addition to the criminal consequences that you could face if you are ever convicted of Drunk Driving, the "pain" does not stop there. If the government gets its way, you could also lose your driver's license, your license plates and even your vehilce.

Here are some of the potential Civil Consequences you could be subject to if you are ever found guilty of a Minnesota DWI.

1 - Driver’s License Revocation - Often more problematic than the fines you could be forced to pay and the prospective jail sentence you could be asked to serve is the loss of one's privilege to drive. Think about it, most of us drive ...  everywhere? You need to drive to work, to the grocery store, to take your kids to school, to day care, etc.  Well, if your charged with a DWI (yes, just charged - you don't even have to be found guilty to suffer this consequence) - you could lose your driver's license for a substantial period of time. 

Depending on your history - whether you've had your license suspended/revoked previously as the result of drinking and driving - the actual amount of time you will "lose" your license can vary. 

As an example:

For a 1st time, Misdemeanor DWI offense - your license can be revoked for up to 90 days; however, there does exist the chance that you could see it re-instated as soon as 30 days into the process. 

For a 1st time, Gross-Misdemeanor offense (where you were tested and your blood, breath or urine returned a Blood Alcohol Content ("BAC") result of .20 or greater) you could lose your driver's license for up to 180 days. If this was the 1st time you were ever stopped for DWI and you refused to submit to testing - your license could be pulled for up to 1 year.


As a point of explanation, "1st time" DWI includes first ever offenses and any 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc offense - if those additional offenses occurred at least ten years after your last such offense.


On a 2nd (in ten years) Minnesota DWI where your blood, breath or urine test returns a result of .08 or more - but less than .20 - you could lose your license for up to 6 months. If you refuse to test and/or your test result was .20 or greater - then it will be pulled for one-year.

A 3rd DWI Minnesota DWI where your blood, breath or urine test returns a result of .08 or more - but less than .20 - and/or if you refuse to submit to a test, you driver's license could be revoked for up to a year. If the test is over .20, then it could be two-years.

A 4th DWI - incurred over a ten year period - where your blood, breath or urine test result is .08 or more - but less than .20 - and/or if you refuse to submit to a test - the revocation period is three-years. If your test came back at .20 or more, then it could be six.

What most people, who fail to hire a Minnesota DWI Attorney, fail to appreciate is that in order to preserve you driver's license - you have to challenge the validity of the revocation in a proceeding that operates outside of your Criminal case. 

Although this is not the full list of the potential consequences you could suffer, know this: an experienced Twin Cities Drunk Driving Lawyers can fully inform you and assist you in this process. If you're facing a DWI charge, the first, best step you can take is to immediately speak with a lawyer - and learn your rights.

2 - You Could Lose Your License Plates -  Here's one that always baffles even me - a DWI arrest might cause you to lose you vehicle's license plates. As a matter of fact, you could also have the license plate on every vehicle titled in your name pulled. Now, you will get new plates - but you're probably not going to like them because they're the well-known, embarrassing, and non-too-attractive "Whiskey Plates."

Plate impoundment is, like the potential loss of your driver's license, an administrative sanction that can be imposed quickly and in most cases occurs subsequent to a Drunk Driving arrest - and a conviction is not required.

Your plates could be subject to impoundment if any one of the following factors exists:

a.You have a prior DWI violation - sometime in the past 10 years;
b.The test result in your current DWI arrest is .20 or greater;
c.The DWI occurred at a time when there was a minor (someone 16 or younger) in the vehicle at the time; and
d.You were arrested for the offense of Driving After Cancellation (of your driver's license) whether or not you were intoxicated or not.

As a direct result of a Minnesota DWI offense, more than just the vehicle you were driving at the time of the above-listed offense.

The vehicles that could also be subject to plate impoundment include:

a.The vehicle used in the current offense - even if you're not the owner; and
b. Any other vehicles owned, registered, or leased individually in your name alone or jointly in your name and that of another person.

As with driver's license revocations, plate impoundments operate on a fairly tight deadline schedule. Failure to comply - or request a hearing within in the time set out in the impoundment notice (usually 30 days) will result in your inability to challenge the government's impoundment.

3 - The Government Can Take Your Vehicle - If you are charged with a crime in which a vehicle was used - like a DWI, your vehicle may be subject to forfeiture.

Minnesota DWI laws - specifically as it relates to 2nd Degree and/or Felony DWI offenses - provides that the forfeiture of the vehicle used in connection with a DWI is presumed - meaning that it can be taken without a ruling from a judge, unless you takes action to prevent it. Should a you wish to stop the forfeiture, you must file a judicial demand for forfeiture within 30 days of receiving the state's notice.

There are many legal ins-and-outs when it comes to vehicle forfeitures. Know this, just because the government says they intend to take your vehicle does not mean that they will get to.


As you can see, from your driver's license, to your vehicle's license plates, to the vehicle it self - getting a DWI in Minnesota means much more than a fine and the possibility of jail or community service. Therefore, it is important that you speak to an experienced Minnesota DWI Lawyer. He or she should be able to examine your case, explain what consequences you could be facing (both the criminal and the civil) and set forth a strategy to fight for you in court.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Canada and Drunk Driving

Have any plans of traveling to Canada? Well, you'd might want to reconsider if you have been convicted of a DWI.

Much like other nations, the government of Canada excludes certain non-citizens from entering the country if they have been assigned to something called the Inadmissible Class. How does one become "inadmissible?" Well, one way is by having had been convicted of a criminal offense - like a DWI.

Believe it or not,Canada regards DWI as an extremely serious offense and if you have a prior conviction for Drunk Driving on your record - you may qualify as a member of the Inadmissible Class and will not be allowed to enter Canada freely.

Granted, there is a silver lining to this cloud - the Inadmissible status can be amended. A person deemed Inadmissible may be rehabilitated and be eligible for entry after a certain period has expired - from the completion of the criminal sentence imposed. Depending on the offense, this period may be as short as 5 years or as long as 10 years.

It might also be possible to get a temporary resident permit to enter Canada - prior to rehabilitation, but this is up to the passport control officer's discretion and requires a fee.  The temporary resident permit is meant to allow entry for exceptional circumstances, which would include reasons of national interest or on strong humanitarian or compassionate grounds.


Another consequences of being convicted of a DWI - No Canada for you. If you've been arrested for a DWI, you have to be aware of your rights - and the consequences you could face. If you have questions, contact an experienced, Minnesota DWI and Drunk Driving Attorney, today.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Foolproof Way to Beat a DWI?

Driving while under the influence of alcohol is, by any reasonable person's account, dangerous. If you are under the influence and you choose to drive - you are at greater risk of being in an accident, being injured, and/or dying.  And, not only are you risking your own life and limbs - but your also endangering everyone else on the road with you.  

That being said, did you know that - that every single injury or death related to drunk driving is preventable.  Here is the one foolproof way to prevent drinking and driving.

Take the "D" out of DWI.

How do you do that? Here are some options.
  1. Assign a designated driver. Have someone in your party who agrees not to drink be the only one who holds on to the keys and the only one who drives.
  2. Take a cab. Trust me the cost of almost any cab ride - save for one that takes you from New York to California (and maybe even then) is going to cost less than a DWI arrest, in the long run.
  3. Walk home.
  4. Contract with a Designated Driver Service.  Not only do you get home safe - but if you've driven to the bar - your vehicle will too.
  5. Get a room. As with the suggestion in #2 - the cost of spending a night in a hotel will be small - when compared to what you'll end up spending to defend a DWI and/or pay the fines, fees and increased car insurance if your ever convicted of Drunk Driving.
The DWI legal process can be a very daunting one. All too often, the people I talk to assume that just because they were pulled over by the police and charged with a DWI - that a conviction is all but guaranteed. This is far from the truth.

The first, best step you can take to ensure that you have a fighting chance to preserve your rights, understand your options - and even beat the charge - is to speak to an experienced Minnesota DWI Defense Attorney.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What is drunk? There's an app for that.

More than a few people I've talked to - who have been accused of being "drunk" and driving - have told me that they sure didn't "feel intoxicated" at the time of their arrest. However, the test that they took down at the cop-shop had something else to say about that.

Wanting to be careful in the future, here are some things you may want to consider and tools you might employ to gauge your own level of intoxication.

#1 - A general rule of thumb is that you can have one 12oz. beer, one 4 oz. glass of wine, or one 1.5 oz. shot of whiskey per hour and not be "over-the-limit."

#2 - You can also look to something like this "wheel" to help guesstimate your Blood Alcohol Content  before you get behind "the wheel" of your vehicle.

#3 And finally, there are also any number of apps (free and otherwise) available for your smart phone which also purport to assist you in these calculations. 

(Please understand that these BAC Calculators are best used for for informational purposes only. One shouldn't rely on them for the purpose of drinking alcohol and then driving; however, they might make for an interesting conversation piece at your next cocktail party or "appy" hour.)

In all seriousness, the consequences that can flow from a DWI arrest and prosecution can be HUGE -  the loss of your driver’s license, heavy fines, probation, jail, vehicle impoundment or forfeiture... the list goes on and on.  The State of Minnesota treats Drunk Driving quite seriously - and so do I.  

If you've been arrested for Drunk Driving, you need to ensure that your rights are protected and that your concerns and desires are addressed. Your best, first move should be to contact an experienced, tenacious Minnesota DWI Lawyer who will fight for you and your future.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Common DWI-Drunk Driving Questions - Part II

What do the cops look for seeking out drunk drivers on the highway? 

Believe it or not, it isn't red sports cars, those pick-ups with the loud exhaust, or just about anybody out driving around at 3:00 am. The National Highway Traffic Administration has compiled a Top 20 list of the things that the the cops look for when attempting to determine if someone is driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Double the Letterman - none of the fun... Drum roll - please:

20. Headlights off
19. Accelerating or decelerating rapidly
18. Turning abruptly or illegally
17. Stopping inappropriately
16. Slow responses to traffic signals
15. Signaling inconsistent with driving conduct
14. Driving into opposing lane or oncoming traffic
13. Braking erratically
12. Driving onto the center line and/or "fog" line
11. Drifting (in your lane)
10. Following too closely
 9. Stopping without cause - in your traffic lane
 8. Speeding less than 10 m.p.h. below the posted limit
 7. Swerving
 6. Driving somewhere other than the roadway
 5. Weaving
 4. Almost striking object or other vehicle
 3. "Appearing" to be drunk
 2. Straddling the center-line

And the #1 symptom the police look for when attempting to determine whether someone is driving while drunk - Wide turns.

Speeding, incidentally, is not a common symptom of DWI. Apparently, that's because of the (often) quicker judgment and reflexes necessary when traveling at a high rate of speed - which to those who know may tend to indicate sobriety rather than intoxication.

No matter the rhyme or reason, a DWI arrest is a serious matter - for you, for your family, and for your future. If you've never been through something like this before - and more than a few of us have - you should strongly consider not going it alone. At the very least, sit down and talk to a Minnesota DWI Attorney - to understand what rights you have and how you can get the results you desire. 

Understand this, just because you've been arrested for Drunk Driving does not mean you'll be convicted. Make sure someone looks out for you - just like you're looking out for you future. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Post St. Patrick's Day DWI Break Down

From the March 17, 2011, Star Tribune - Metro (Public Safety) Section - A Few Sobering Notes on Driving Drunk.

Did you know?
St. Patrick's Day is the second-deadliest holiday for alcohol-related traffic deaths, according to the state Department of Public Safety.

Extra DWI patrols will be on the roads on St. Patrick's Day to nab drunk drivers.

Sobering Facts:

- Alcohol-related crashes on St. Patrick's Day accounted for four of seven Minnesota traffic deaths from 2007 to 2009.

- 909 drivers were arrested for DWI during that time.

- Each year in Minnesota, alcohol-related crashes account for more than 140 deaths. More than 30,000 motorists are arrested for DWI.

- One in seven Minnesotans has a DWI on record. A DWI offense can result in loss of license for up to a year, thousands in costs and possible jail time.

What They Say

"There are plenty of safe alternatives available on St. Patrick's Day, so there is no excuse for anyone to put lives at risk by driving impaired," says Jean Ryan, impaired-driving program coordinator in the DPS' Office of Traffic Safety.

Gonna Drink All Day?

Drinking for long periods will produce high alcohol-concentration levels that will not drop below the legal limit -- even with breaks in drinking in the morning or afternoon, Ryan said.


There are many ways to celebrate the saints, from Patrick to Valentine to Old Nick. If drinking is part of that party - enjoy in moderation. If your definition of that differs from that of the government - and you find yourself having to answer to them for as much - your first, best defense is to contact a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney and learn about how your rights and your future can be preserved.

I understand that when your facing legal charges you want to find a representative that you can trust. One way I try to demonstrate that I have my client's best interests at heart is through the individualized attention I provide. Work with me and you'll understand what’s happening at each step of the process. I'm private, easy to talk to, and I help my clients get positive results.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Common DWI-Drunk Driving Questions. Part I

As a Minnesota DWI Attorney, I get questions - lots and lots of questions. Some have rather specific answers - such as: "Will my driver's license be suspended - for how long?" Others, like: "What do the cops look for when searching for Drunk Drivers?" are a little less well-defined and often open to some kind of interpretation.

Here are some of the questions that I've been asked:

#1 - Why me?

Often this is the one of the first questions people ask when they're pulled over and arrested for DWI --- Why me? This is especially true if that person only had a few drinks or was not "driving drunk." 

The truth is - there is no rhyme or reason for why. Believe it or not, in the State of Minnesota, you can be arrested for DWI even when you don't intend to drive drunk. All the government generally looks for is whether there was alcohol in your system, at the time that you were driving, and did the amount of it exceed the legal limit.  If it did - you can be arrested.

Therefore, as much the people I've spoke to want to know "why" - I have to tell them that the best course of action is not to dwell so much on the "how come" but rather to begin to focus on the "what now." Because, an arrest for Drunk Driving does not always mean that he or she will be convicted of DWI.

More often than not, the people I've met with have never been in trouble with the law before. Sure, maybe they've picked up a speeding ticket or two - but they've never been involved with something that require them to go to court and to have to interact with attorneys and judges.  If you have been stopped and arrested for Drunk Driving it is important that you speak to an experienced Minnesota DWI Lawyer about your case.

#2 Why am I being charged with TWO Drunk Driving offenses? 

The traditional DWI offense is "driving while intoxicated" and it is concerned not so much with how much alcohol was in your system at the time of driving- but rather did that alcohol (usually ANY amount) influence and/or impaired your ability to drive. In Minnesota there is also a second, so-called "per se" offense that you can also be charged with. It concerns it self with the concentration of alcohol in your blood - if it is .08 or greater then you can be sited under this provision of the statute.

More often than not BOTH offenses are charged and you can be convicted of both - but you can only be punished for  one of them. If your case involves a Refusal to Test charge then only the traditional offense will be charged.

#3 - What is the punishment for Drunk Driving? 

The criminal consequences you could face will vary - depending on the particular circumstances of your case and where you were stopped and arrested. Generally speaking - first time offenders are looking at a sentence of 90 days in jail and a fine of $1000. Now, don't freak out - nearly (if not all) of the jail sentence will be "stayed" (ie., hung over your head) as will a large portion of the fine. Often this is done to ensure that you comply with the Courts other conditions which can include that you: undergo a Chemical Dependency Evaluation, attend a M.A.D.D. Victim-Impact Panel, and that you remain law abiding during the term of your probation.   

For a second offense, in addition to the conditions listed above - you will also most likely face some time in jail. In addition, you could have your vehicle and/or your license plates taken away.

#4 - What Will Happen to My Driver's License?

When you are charged with a first-time, misdemeanor DWI, you will receive a temporary license allowing you to drive for 7 days. After a 15 day period without any driving privileges (22 days after being charged with DWI,) you will be eligible to get a limited driver's license. Subsequent or more serious DWI offenses, may lead to longer suspensions and/or the revocation of your privilege to drive.
Although this is by no means a comprehensive list of the questions that I've been asked, these are some of the consequences that you need to be aware of and consider. 

If you've been arrested for DWI, your first, best defense should be to call an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney and have him or her address you rights, your questions and your concerns.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

DWI Defenses - What Should a Good Lawyer Challenge?

As a prosecutor, I was asked time and time again by individuals who had been charged with a DWI if they needed a lawyer - or not. To a person, my answer was always the same - "Yes!"

I believed it then - and I continue to subscribe to it now --- every individual charged with a DWI should (at the very least) speak with an experienced Minnesota Drunk Driving Attorney about their case.

Often their follow-up was - "Why? I'm guilty ... I was drinking and then I drove. The officer then stopped me, tested me and determined that I was over the legal limit. What defense do I have - what could an attorney possibly do for me?"

Well, a common misperception is that speaking to (and/or hiring) an experienced Minnesota DWI Lawyer demonstrates to the government that you are somehow trying to avoid taking responsibility for what occurred. Believe it or not, decent prosecutors don't look at it that way.  They understand that the Constitution guarantees every individual charged with a crime the right to an attorney and that what you're doing isn't trying to "get away" with something, but rather that you're holding them accountable - ensuring that your rights are protected.

If you're arrested for DWI - an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney should know to address these issues.

#1 - Did the Cops Have a Valid Reason to Pull You Over?

The police can’t stop a vehicle on a mere hunch; the Courts have said that they must have a “reasonable suspicion” to pull you over. Generally, these stops occur as a result of the observations that an officer makes about how you're driving.

In my opinion, this is the best place to defend a DWI case - because if the "stop" of your vehicle was unconstitutional - the government's whole case goes away.  In my experience, judges dislike technical arguments (such as the breathalyzer doesn't work properly - type) because it might tend to show that they're soft of Drunk Drivers. However, they are sticklers for the rules - and ensuring that a defendants rights are protected. A good Minnesota DWI Attorney should be able to demonstrate that just because an officer says something is so - doesn't always make it true. Especially, when it comes to opinions about driving conduct.

#2 - The Field Sobriety Tests Were Not Reliable.

Plain and simple, the roadside gymnastic-like exercises that the police have drivers go through on the side of the road are just not good evidence tending to prove that a person is drunk. Seriously, one's inability to "properly perform" these tests can be attributed to other factors than drinking - including:  pre-exsisting injuries, medical conditions, your weight, your age, the place where the test was to be performed, the weather and the officer him or herself.

By knowing the rules for the administration of these tests, an experienced Twin Cities DWI Lawyer should be able to demonstrate to a judge and/or a jury that these tests are biased.

#3 - Challenge the Breath Test

As the recent news has shown, testing someone's breath to measure the amount of alcohol in that person's system is susceptible to error. Experts have acknowledged that just one breath test alone might be unreliable and that if the test isn't administered properly it might not be valid also. In addition, serious questions have been raised about what effects the outcome of these tests, including: the temperature of your breath, how fast your bodily eliminates alcohol, and whether items in your mouth - such as dentures, blood and or other chemical compounds - have some impact?

If the test is not done properly - if the above-listed concerns are not addressed - then serious questions could arise as to the accurately of the measurement of the alcohol in your system.  A skilled, Twin Cities Drunk Driving Lawyer may be able to persuade a judge to throw out the results.


There are almost limitless ways to defend against a Minnesota DWI arrest. Granted, there are no guarantees that these defenses will work - everytime. However, if you don’t challenge the government - or assert your DWI defenses - then you shouldn't expect any leniency or that the charges will be dismissed.

Remember, the government has the burden of showing that you're guilty; you don't have to prove anything. Holding them to that duty is your right - and should NEVER be used against you. 

If you have been cited for DWI, as I have told many, many others - "Talk to a Lawyer!" Just because you've been arrested does not mean that you are guilty.  If you rights have been violated - you could see your case dismissed. You'd also be working to ensure that others won't be subject to the same criminal investigatory problems in the future.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Top 5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Minnesota DWI Lawyer.

You may argue that only a Minnesota DWI Attorney could love the proverb that intones - the individual who serves as his or her own lawyer has a fool for a client.  But, having logged as much time in the court room as I have - next to death, taxes and the Vikings not winning the Super Bowl - there really is no other certainty more certain than that. If you go into court without an attorney - you're probably going to end up make a fool out of yourself. 

Granted, you do have the right to "go it alone" - that's guaranteed by the Constitution. However, for those of you who can appreciate the precariousness of that course of action - yet, still have some trepidation or fear of putting your fate into the hands of someone else - I have a couple of suggestions that you may want to consider when looking for a Minnesota DWI Attorney

Here are 5 things to consider:

First, hire a Criminal Defense Attorney who concentrates his or her practice in the area of DWI & Drunk Driving defense. All too often, people see the word "Attorney" and believe that that person knows everything under the legal sun.  All too often, this is not the case, just like a foot doctor is not going to help you with an eye problem and vice-versa.

For me, this truth is often revealed at family get togethers where cousins I haven't seen since the Carter Administration pick my brain on issues related to their divorces and long lost uncles who want to know if I can help them sue Arbys because they slipped on some Horsey Sauce and hurt their backs.  Frankly, I have to admit - even if I did want to help them - I couldn't do so effectively because I don't specialize in Family Law or Personal Injury Law. Sure, I have some basic idea about what they're asking for --- but to have their needs fully serviced, the best I can (and should do) is recommend someone who practices in those areas on a regular basis.

Therefore, when seeking out your Minnesota DWI/Drunk Driving Attorney - start with someone who actually defends people charged with DWIs.

Second, think about what qualities in an attorney are most important to you. Ask yourself this, do you want a Twin Cities DWI Attorney who is young, less expensive, and who is willing to make up for a lack of experience through hard work? Or, do you want someone who is well-established, with a long list of credits and credentials? Do you want someone to be available to you - to answer your questions when you want them answered? Or, do you want someone who has been on the other side of these cases - say a former prosecutor - who knows the government's schemes and motivations?

In my opinion, most - if not all - Minnesota Drunk Driving Lawyers pretty much know the same stuff; however, all too often the best of the bunch are also the busiest - and they also tend to charge the most. Plus, nowhere to my knowledge has it been shown that the more you pay a lawyer, the better the representation you'll get.

I got into this business because I saw that far too many people were either going it alone because they were deemed too "rich" to qualify for a public defender --- and/or --- they weren't getting their monies worth when it came to retaining an attorney. Trust me, you can get competent, experienced legal representation - at a price that won't break the bank.  Don't be fooled by fancy websites, cute ads or by price alone.  When your out to hire an attorney, you have to be sure that he or she understands that you're the boss and that what you want to see happen with your case is what they are actuaually fighting for. Meet him or her and decide if you have confidence in that person and their skills - and that you feel comfortable with their analysis of your case.

Third, choose a lawyer that can clearly explain your situation and your legal rights. Any lawyer worth his or her title should be able to simply and clearly explain the criminal charges against you, your legal rights, what the government has to prove in order for you to be found guilty. He or she should also be able to explain the possible consequences you could face - and not just the criminal penalties. Your attorney should also be able to explain any collateral consequences you could face - like the loss of your driver's license, vehicle, etc.

In my experience - directness and honesty are the best policies. I've been on both sides of these case - as a prosecutor working for the government and now defending clients.  I have seen it all - and although no two cases are ever the same - I am aware of what can and will happen if you're convicted. 

Fourth, discuss fees - and don't be discouraged to bargain. Like the boss that you are - know this - you have a right to ask how much a Minnesota DWI Attorney will charge you before deciding to hire him or her. Some lawyers charge a flat fee - but then tack on additional costs if you choose to exercise your right to go to trial.  I never do that. After taking the time to look at your case, at the initial consultation, I will quote you a price that covers any and all services - that you desire.  If you can't get someone to lock in a price, from the get go --- detailing what that does and does not cover --- then I would suggest looking else where. Additionally, believe me when I tell you --- all prices are negotiable.

Fifth, believe it or not - and it pains me to have to admit this... but it's true - there are some Minnesota DWI cases that just can’t be won (if "winning" is defined as - either being found "not guilty" at trial and/or having the charges against you dismissed.) Now, as we've all become a little more aware of over the past couple of weeks... "Winning!" - as Charlie Sheen has been fond of pointing out - does come in many different varieties. And, although you may not have your case dismissed, an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney can help you to "win" the best possible outcome with the government and before the judge. 

In the end, be smart when you choose your lawyer. Don’t be talked into paying a $4,000 retainer, when your chances to prevail are low to begin with. There are many very qualified lawyers in Minnesota who will represent DWI defendants for an affordable fee.


A conviction for DWI will have longstanding consequences - both for you, your wallet, your family and your future. If you have been charged with Drunk Driving and/or a DWI, it is important that you consider engaging a lawyer as soon as possible. That decision often can (and will) have a serious influence on the outcome of your case. Engaging the right Minnesota DWI Lawyer may prove to be a difficult task. Hopefully you will take into consideration some of the information posted here when making up your mind.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Drinking & Driving?

Believe it or not it isn't illegal to drink and drive. Granted, in Minnesota, a measurement of the alcohol (in your blood) cannot register .08 or greater. Oh, and if there is an amount of alcohol less than that in your system, it better not impair your ability to drive because if it does, you could be in trouble there too. But, other than that --- feel free to enjoy your thimble-sized cocktail and the open road.  Or not.  Apparently the nanny state (which I believe shares a border with the police state) is alive in well in Washington D.C. where Senators Udall and Corker have proposed a law that could lead to alcohol sensoring equipment being standard issue in EVERY vehicle.

Maybe it's just me - but when has treating EVERYONE as the problem ever solved the problem?  Whether it's putting an alcohol detector in everyone's car to "protect" us from drunk drivers or feeling-up everyone at the airport to "protect" us from a few terrorists - this is not protection. Rather, it is the first of many baby steps toward the sort of totalitarian state that Orwell described - no? 

Where will it stop people? A law requiring automobiles made entirerly out of Nerf? Maybe that's a law I could get behind - and a car that I wouldn't mind running out in front of?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Intoxilyzer 5000: Good Enough is Good Enough?

What do horseshoes, hand grenades and this "machine" all have in common?

Apparently, when your freedoms and rights are on the line --- "close" is good enough. Although I am sure that this will not be the final word on the Intoxilyzer 5000 (and don't get me wrong - Judge Abrahms' ruling was quite thorough and well-reasoned,) the "good enough for government work" ethos that pervades the use of technologies like this - under the guise of serving and protecting you and I - is alive and well here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

I say pity the powers that be who seek to perpetrate this fraud upon the citizenry. Especially, when there are proven  methods available to law enforcement (that have been verified as accurate!) to assist them in doing their jobs. I ask you - why must they continue to employ this out-dated blow-toy?

Think about it, is "good enough" good enough when your job, your wallet, your reputation and all to often your future are on the line? The answer is easy: H*ll no! 

But, maybe - in the end - all is not lost. Heck, when you have a judge strongly implying - that this "severely challenged" and "at the edge of ... usefulness" tool might have been used to falsely convict individuals charged with DWI, I think I see the beginnings of a fairly decent Minnesota DWI Attorney's reasonable doubt argument. But, maybe that's just me, always trying to make lemonade out of lemons (and court rulings.)