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.

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