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.

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