Thursday, April 28, 2011

Arrests Don't Always Mean Convictions - Part 3

As I've gone on about before (and before,) just because someone is arrested - that does not mean that he or she will be convicted.  Upon a first reading of these facts - a driver crashes, has contact with someone who for all intents and purposes appears to be a police officer, is asked to have his blood tested to determine its alcohol content and refuses to do so - one would think that he's guilty violating Minn.Stat. § 169A.20, subd. 2 - which says that it is a crime if a driver refuses a request to take a chemical test to determine the alcohol content of his blood, breath or urine.

However, as the supreme court points out, that request for a test needs to be made by an actual police officer --- not just someone who holds him out to be one.

Granted, this issue is a novel one - and may not soon be repeated; however, this is exactly what keeps this country from becoming "police" state. 

If you're ever charged with a crime, you deserve to have every stone overturned, every fact examined and every issue analyzed.  Some people can do this for themselves, but just as you might not trust your next medical procedure to an untrained friend or family member - if you've been arrested, you owe it to yourself (and to your future) to contact an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.

Just because you've been arrested and charged does not mean that your fate is sealed.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

DWI - Field Sobriety Tests - Don't do 'em

Field Sobriety Tests are commonly used by the police to ascertain whether a driver is "under the influence." However, to most experience Minnesota DWI Attorneys these controversial "tests" are fertile ground for debate in court - regarding what they don't demonstrate about an individuals level of intoxication.

As is common - when asked to do something by the police - most of us comply.  Maybe it's because we were asked nicely, or maybe it's because we don't want to be confrontational or appear to have something to hide. Irrespective of one's motivations, in more cases than not - based on the hundreds of DWI police reports I've read through - we're not doing anyone (but the cops) a favor if we submit to these roadside calisthenics.

As you will see in upcoming posts, one's chances of "passing" these tests (even when a driver is not over the legal limit) is often low - considering the conditions under which they're often administered. Plus, if you have been drinking - and the officer has already noted the odor of alcohol coming from you - it's just common sense that he or she is going to note any missteps during your taking of these tests as additional signs of intoxication, no? Remember, his subjective opinion is what will go into the police report - and that carries considerable weight when it comes to charging and prosecuting someone for Drunk Driving.

In the State of Minnesota, the option to take these tests is up to the driver. My advice, to anyone requested to perform them, is - as Nancy Reagan was fond of intoning - Just Say No! As with any criminal case, the burden is on the government to prove you're guilty. Knowing that, why would anyone want to give them additional fuel for their fire? Also, believe it or not - you cannot prove your innocent. If you submit to these tests, more likely than not, the officer is going to pay more attention to the problems with your performance than the perfection of it - and (either he or the prosecutor) is going to slant those missteps in such a way as to bolster their case against you.

Most likely if your reading this, the question as to whether you want to - walk the line, or stand on one leg has already been put to you and you've agreed. If that's the case, there are ways to work with that; however, for those of you a tad more fortunate, I hope you never find yourself in such a position, but if you do --- Just say no.

Remember, for questions like this, an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney is always just a phone call away; use him or her to learn your rights and to minimize the evidence the government collects from you.

Monday, April 25, 2011

If You Think You Need an Attorney...

You probably need an attorney.

Believe it or not, a lot of people won't even consider hiring an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney when charged with a crime --- like a DWI or Drunk Driving. 


One reason is that they think that attorneys are far too expensive for them to afford. Well, the truth is that lawyers ARE pricey - but they're nowhere near as expensive as a DWI conviction.

A good attorney can cost you anywhere between from $1,000 to up to $5,000 (or more) to handle your case from the first hearing through to the jury's verdict.

While this isn't as expensive as many people believe - I agree it can put quite a big dent in your budget.

How can I say this "isn't expensive" - well, consider what a DWI conviction often means something more than money.  Sure, there are the fines, the court-ordered classes and examinations, the driver's license reinstatement fee - and the hit to your insurance; but, you also have to think about the consequences to your future if you incur a criminal conviction. 

Now, I'm not just saying this because I am an attorney, talk to your friends and family who have employed the services of a good, experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney --- good lawyers can make sure that you avoid the some of the pitfalls listed above. 

Ask yourself this, who knows better what's going on in court room - you or an attorney? Who is going to get a case dismissed, evidence excluded, or a decent settlement for you - can you do that? Or do you need an attorney? 

When you're sick, you go to a doctor.  When you legally unhealthy, you should talk to a lawyer.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Working with a Lawyer - The Top 5 Questions

When looking for an attorney - do you know what questions you should ask - factors you should consider?  Price, experience; male female, tall short, real or tv character?  Here are some important things you should take into account when deciding to hire an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.
  1. Is the lawyer a generalist, or does he/she specialize in one type of law?
  2. Has the lawyer handled cases like yours before?
  3. What kind of outcomes can the lawyer predict for your case?
  4. How will your attorney inform you of the case's progress?
  5. What style can you expect from the lawyer: aggressive or open to settlement?
I believe that the lawyer-client relationship is at its strongest when the two people truly understand one another.  Before becoming a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney, I worked as a prosecutor.  That experience provided me an insight that I believe better serves my clients. I've see good and not so good attorney; I've seen clients that were over charged and under served. I know how to do this job poorly (having heard my fair share of sob stories) - I just choose not to do it that way.

In the end, my knowledge of the government's motivation and tactics affords me a unique opportunity to better serve my clients - and in doing so I can better negotiate positive outcomes for them my clients as well as win them well-earned acquittals.

If you - or someone you loved - has been charged with a crime, the first-best thing your should do is contact an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

DYK: April 21 is Distracted Driving Enforcement Day?

If you've heard it once - you've heard it a thousand time - Distracted Driving is as bad as (if not worse than) Drunk Driving. As such, a concerted effort is underway today in the State of Minnesota to bring attention and awareness to the dangers of distracted driving - where by some counts, almost 70 deaths and 350 injuries can be directly attributed.  

Following a tragic accident in St. Louis Park, where a motorcyclist was nearly killed recently, this heightened patrol could not be more timely. So, how can you prepare yourself - and avoid a ticket?
What to Know

Generally speaking, the police are seeking to address four categories of distraction:

  • Visual - looking away from the road;
  • Physical - taking hands off the wheel to use a cell phone or adjusting radio/music device;
  • Cognitive - being “lost in thought” or focusing on a conversation, which results in less situational awareness;
  • Combination of the above - reading a map or texting while driving.
Some Suggestions
  • Cell phones — turn them off or place them out of reach so you're not tempted to dial or answer. If a passenger is present, ask them to handle calls/texts.
  • Music and other controls — pre-program favorite radio stations for easy access and arrange music (mp3 player/CDs/tapes) in an easy-to-access spot. Adjust mirrors and heat/AC before traveling, or ask a passenger for help.
  • Navigation — designate a passenger to serve as a co-pilot to help with directions. If driving alone, map out destinations in advance, and pull over to study a map.
  • Eating and drinking — if you cannot avoid food/beverage, at least avoid messy foods, and be sure food and drinks are secured.
  • Children — teach children the importance of good behavior in a vehicle; do not underestimate how distracting it can be to tend to children while driving.
  • If you’re a passenger, speak up to stop drivers from distracted driving behavior.

Understand that although distractions are aplenty when you're behind the wheel, there are instances where even the most this behavior is allowed.  Specifically, the law does not prohibit, use of a wireless communications device that is used solely in a voice-activated or other hands-free mode when making a call and/or otherwise when trying to seek emergency assistance to report a traffic accident, medical emergency, or serious traffic hazard, or to prevent a crime about to be committed. 

What To Do if You Get a Ticket

If you've been charged with a Distracted Driving-type offense- you really owe it to yourself to know your rights. One way to do that - contact an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney. The sooner you make that call, the better your defense will be.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How to Beat a Speeding Ticket - The Cop (Redux)

If you're like me - reading can be boring... right?  As such, here's a video from the crew- and another take - on How To Beat a Speeding Ticket

As with all "how to" advice - often the simplest explanation is the one least talked about. In this case, avoid speeding, and you'll avoid trouble.  However, if you have received a ticket - I understand, it is serious business. If you have questions about your rights - your best, next step should be to discuss your case with an experienced Minnesota Defense Attorney.

As a BONUS, another clip - that follows up on the topic of How To Act If You're Stopped By the Police.

Happy trails.

Monday, April 18, 2011

How to Beat a Speeding Ticket - The Cop

There's more than one way to beat a Speeding Ticket. You can take the time to go into court, and try the case and/or beg for mercy in front of the judge --- or better yet, negotiate on the side of the road with the person who often has the highest degree of discretion when it comes to whether you'll be receiving a ticket.

Believe it or not - not everyone pulled over for exceeding the speed limit drives away with a ticket.

Why is that?

Well, one thing that you want to keep in mind when you're interacting with a [police officer is that - no matter the formality of it all (from the uniforms, to the badges, to the high-tech squad cars and investigation tools) - in the end you're dealing with another human being; someone with feelings and emotions just like you and I.

Here are somethings to keep in mind - from the moment you're pulled over.

How's your attitude?  What do you do, when you want someone to like you - or when you want him or her to do something for you? Do you argue or fight with that person?  No. The first thing you should keep in mind when you meet up with the officer is that you need to work to make him like you if you want him to do something nice for you.

How are your surroundings? Believe it or not, pulling over someone over can often be one of the most dangerous (if not the most stressful) aspect of an officer's job - because often he does not know what he is in for when he walks up to that driver.  Therefore, one thing that you'll want to do is to make sure the situation is as comfortable as possible.

Turn your car off, remove the keys from the ignition (place them on the dash where they can be seen) and put your hands on the wheel at the 10 & 2 positions. You should also remove any sunglasses or hats - and if it is nighttime, turn on your vehicle's interior light.

In short, think of what might make the situation tense for the officer - and then do the opposite. The more comfortable the cops are, the more amenable they might be to being lenient with you.

How's your cooperation? When you're pulled over, know this - the officer is in charge. If he wants your identification and vehicle insurance information - provide it to him without delay. (As a matter of fact, if you're going to need to be reaching around inside the vehicle, to comply with that request, you may want to also consider explaining to the officer what your doing - such as if the insurance card is in the glove box ... you should signal to him that's why your reaching in that direction.) Then, only after all his business is out of the way, should you even consider making your case.

The questions. Often the trickiest aspect of being pulled over is the questioning from the officer - because, more than curiosity as to whether you'll guess correctly -when asked "do you know why I pulled you over?" - what he is really trying to do is to get you to do is to do his job for him.

Remember, if you guess "because I was speeding" - you've gone along way toward helping the government make its case against you.

The answers. If you truly don't know why the officer pulled you over (and seriously, how could you know what's going on inside his head, right?) - you should politely explain that you're not certain as to why you were pulled over and that you'd hate to make an incorrect guess. On the other hand, if you know you broke the law - not only should you consider admitting as much, but you should also seek to praise the officer for having had stopped you. In doing so, not only are you demonstrating your respect for him and the work that he is doing - your honesty may be just what he needed to hear and as such he could decide to not seek any additional punishment for you.

Your questions. If you've developed some rapport with the officer - you should consider asking him a few questions. One you might want to try is - asking what speed detection device he used to "clock" you. Then, ask if you can see it. Now, he may say "no" - if that's the case don't push the issue (that's what court is for.) After that, you might want to ask about when the last time was that the unit was checked - to see if was working properly - and/or whether when the officer assessed your speed was he was moving or not.

When you do this - keep in mind - be respectful. Again, your trying to build a relationship with the officer ... one in which he might consider doing you a favor - not the other way around.

Plead your case. Once the formalities are out of the way, in your most sincere way --- ask for mercy. (Or as you might want to think of it - practice some dignified begging.) Make it sincere and let the officer know that this is a a big deal for you.

The end. No matter the outcome on the side of the road, leave the stop in such a way so that there's nothing too memorable about it. If you ultimately end up having this matter litigated in court, the less the officer remembers about it - the better. 

Like any arrest, a ticket is serious business. If you have questions about your rights - your best, next step should be to discuss your case with an experienced Minnesota Defense Attorney.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Big Brother is Watching?

I am sure all reasonable people can agree that drinking and driving is dangerous. That being said, how far should we, as reasonable people, go in order to preserve our safety? Not only will alcohol-monitoring devices soon become necessary equipment in our vehicles - but now Big Brother wants to ride shotgun?

Sure, it's hard to argue against using cameras to get drunks off the road - just as you are probably not going to have many takers asserting that setting up a similar sort of surveillance in areas where sex workers and drug dealers are known to frequent is a bad idea. But, where do we draw the line? Would we all agree - ala Minority Report - that there should be a division of law enforcement dedicated to monitoring anyone that has the potential to potentially threaten another? Probably not.

People, once we start down these slippery slopes - as with genies and toothpaste - often we can't contain what we've set loose. Today, it's drunk drivers - and that may all be fine and good - but what is it going to be tomorrow?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why You Don't Want To Go To Prison

Because, if you do go --- the odds are you'll be going back. Maybe that's not necessarily news, but what might astound some in the Land of Lakes is that we lead the nation - with a solid majority of defendant who reoffend being put back behind bars within three years of their release.

The reasons for this are many - and range from "prison is too easy" to "once tarred with the brand FELON - you can never get out from under that."

I don't know which side makes more sense to you.

I would think that even though someone may be afforded  a number of "free" things while incarcerated - such as an education, food, clothing, shelter, medical care - it doesn't appear to be the bargain it is cracked up to be  considering the freedoms and rights you'd also have to give up.

To me, it would seem to make more sense that once someone made a mistake - that lead to a criminal conviction - the ability to get back to "normal" is not really a realistic option. Rather than being given the benefit of the doubt, and the chance to redeem him or herself, the offender is often tarred with their past and that can have the effect of limiting their options. 

Now, this isn't a excuse --- people who choose crime over "doing the work" should not be afforded our pity. But, at the same time - we need to embrace the idea that people can be rehabilitated. And, to me, that means, taking a chance on someone.

In the end, it's hard not to see that the prison system has turned into a bureaucracy of its own (only in America!) and no politician or prison bureau employee is going to try too hard to throw money at any sort of programing that would seek to teach the incarcerated skills to keep them out of jail - would they?  Sure, many people in prison need to be in prison (and often for a long, long time) but couldn't many non-violent criminals actually benefit from some sort of job training, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and/or psychological counseling?

If you've been charged with a crime - you really owe it to yourself to contact an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney. The sooner you make that call, the better your defense will be.

Friday, April 8, 2011

DWIs - Ignition Lock-Out Devices

In case you ever lose sight of the fact that the government views driving as a privilege, and not a right, then you'll better be able to wrap you mind around Breath-testing Ignition Lock-out devices - which will become something like standard issue in the vehicles of thousands of Minnesotans (this July) whose driver's licenses have been taken away because of an arrest for Drunk Driving.

The promise of these devices - which are about the size of a cell phone and require the user to blow in to it in order to start their vehicle - is that if there is a measurable amount of alcohol in the system of a potential driver their vehicle will not start. On its face, this sounds like a simple and economical way to make sure that offenders can drive - but not when they're drunk.

However, these devices are not foolproof.

Chief among their "issues" is the potential to have someone else blow into the device for the offender.  (Hilarious in the movies - not so much in real life.)  Also, they can malfunction - keeping someone who has not consumed alcohol from being able to drive his or her vehicle.

Know this, the illusion of safety is not the same thing as being safe. If a drunk wants to drive - they'll drive. The real question that needs to be asked is not whether these things will keep us safe (they won't) but rather who gets richer? One thing that's certain, the tax coffers will get filled. The rest will be a fortunate (pardon the pun) - accident.

Coming soon?

Cameras in our cars to make sure we're not smoking in front of minors, a holster to insert your cellphone into to ensure that you can't talk or text while driving and a helmet.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

DWI - Implied Consent Hearings (Explained)

The State of Minnesota - like most states - presumes that any person who drives, operates, or is in physical control of any type of motor vehicle anywhere in the state consents to a test of his or her breath, blood, or urine (for the purpose of determining alcohol and/or the presence of controlled or hazardous substances - and their levels) in their body.

Minnesota's Implied Consent law permits the revocation of your driver's license - if you refuse to be tested or if the results of the test disclose the presence of a controlled substance (other than marijuana) or an alcohol concentration of .08 or more. (BE AWARE: One thing most people I speak to fail to understand that the license revocation process is completely separate from any related criminal prosecution they face.)

How to Fight a Revocation

In order to challenge the legality of this license revocation, you must file a petition for review by a judge within 30 days of the date of the notice of revocation. Failure to stick to this time line - forever waives your right to challenge it and ensures that this alcohol-related driving violation will remain on your driving record forever, regardless of the outcome of any related criminal prosecution.

Upon filing of the petition, the law entitles you to a hearing before a judge within 60 days. At that hearing, the Commissioner of Public Safety, who is represented by the Minnesota Attorney General's Office, will put forth any evidence it has  as to why it is seeking the revocation.

The issues generally contested include: examining whether the test you took was accurate and/or reliable, the legality of the stop of your vehicle, the basis for your arrest, whether you were sufficiently advised as to the rights and obligations you had - pursuant to the Implied Consent law, whether you someone actually refused to submit to testing and whether your rights to consult with a lawyer - prior to taking a test - where exercised.


If the judge finds in your favor - and against the commissioner - your driver's license will be reinstated. If the judge sustains the revocation, you can appeal that order to a higher court. 

Do I Need an Attorney to Fight my Revocation

Although I have expressed my opinion on this issue, time and time again, if you consult the back of the Notice and Order of Revocation form issued you - either at the time of the test (if it is a breath test) or later by way of the mail (if your blood or urine were examined) - there is some information about the procedures available for challenging the license revocation. Although the information is accurate, I would suggest that it does not provide enough detail to enable the average person to do the job him or herself.

As such, while it is not required that a person use an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney to handle an Implied Consent case - the technical requirements and the legal issues are fairly complex.

At a minimum, even if you decide to go it alone, if you're considering challenging your revocation - you should consult with a lawyer regarding the specifics of his case. If you have a good case, you may want to seriously consider seeking out the services of the attorney to handle the paperwork and represent you.

In the end, the more information you get - the better. Remember, just because you've been arrested - it does not mean that you'll be convicted

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

DWIs and Public Defenders

There's not doubt about it - Public Defenders provide a great service to their clients. For some, using a Public Defender may be their only option - because they simply don't have the ability to afford a private lawyer. For others - those who might not be inclined to pay for a good defense -  may want to re-evaluate their decision after assessing the information laid out here.

Public Defender - Positives 
  1. Allows low income defendants to have legal representation;
  2. Experienced Public Defenders may get their clients better results than bad, inexperienced Private Lawyers; and
  3. Public Defenders are the best deal going - often their services are free.  
Public Defender - Negatives  
  1. You don't choose your own attorney;
  2. They're government employees;
  3. They're not specialized in any particular area of criminal defense;
  4. They're often less experienced - including among their ranks a lot of new attorneys;
  5. They often have a lot of cases; 
  6. Their caseloads often don't afford them a lot of time to meet with their clients; and
  7. Due to the little time they have - they can be  overly interested in resolving case - quickly.
Admittedly, there are many positives (and negatives) not discussed here; however, when seen in comparison to the advantages of hiring a private Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney, such as:
  1. You get to select who represents your interests;
  2. You can get someone who specializes in DWI Defense;
  3. Because they have less clients, they can devote more time to your case; and
  4. If your not satisfied with your attorney's job - you can fire him or her. 
In my humble opinion, whenever you're charged with a crime --- regardless of how serious or minor that charge is --- you should contact an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible.

Failing to attain proper legal counsel could be only slightly worse than not hiring a criminal attorney at all.

Remember, you get one chance at this thing.  A lawyer, be he or she a Public Defender or Private Attorney, can help protect your rights - and fight the government, who can often dominate uninformed and unprotected defendants.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Minnesota DWIs - Physical Control (Explained)

In 2008, almost 36,000 DWI convictions were logged in the State of Minnesota.  That same inventory reported that nearly 1 in 8 adult Minnesotans have a DWI on their criminal record.

That being said, as you may well be aware, it's not against the law to drink and drive.  Yes - you heard it here - you can drink and drive and not be charged with a crime. 

So, what is it that gets you arrested for Drunk Driving?  Minnesota's DWI law makes it a crime to:

Drive, Operate, or be in Physical Control of any motor vehicle - anywhere in the state while: 
  • under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or (knowingly) a hazardous substance, or any combination of these;
  • having an alcohol concentration (AC) of .08 (.08 is defined as .08 percent alcohol concentration or 8/10,000ths by volume) or more at the time, or within two hours of driving, operating, or in physical control;
  • having any amount of a schedule I or schedule II controlled substance (other than marijuana) in the body; or
  • if the vehicle is a commercial motor vehicle, having an alcohol concentration of .04 or more at the time, or within two hours of driving, operating, or in physical control or a motor vehicle.
As with any well (or poorly) written law, there are any number of terms that only a Minnesota DWI Attorney could love. Sure, the terms "drive" and (to an extent) "operate" are fairly straight forward, but, what about "physical control" - what could that mean. 

Physical Control

In an attempt to keep as many people who have been drinking from getting into their vehicles and driving, the Minnesota Supreme Court has interpreted the term "physical control" quite broadly - incorporating conduct that would only make sense to a judge and/or a lawyer.

Such as, did you know - an intoxicated person who has been found in a parked car, with the keys in his or her pocket, is in "physical control" and can arrested and charged with a Minnesota DWI. Or, that someone standing behind their vehicle, which was running, is in physical control of that vehicle - even though it had a flat tire - when the keys were located in the ignition, and no one else was around.

Whether or not someone is in "physical control" of a vehicle is a very fact-specific question. One way to refute the "rush to judgement" of the government - is to speak to an experienced Minnesota DWI AttorneyRemember, just because you've been charged with s crime does not mean you will be found guilty.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Minnesota DWIs - Charging (Explained)

In the State of Minnesota there are four degrees of Drunk Driving. Generally speaking, the penalties for a Minnesota DWI are based upon the number of aggravating factors present at the time the crime was allegedly committed.

Aggravating factors include:
  • A blood, breath or urine test showing an alcohol concentration of .20 or more as measured at the time, or within two hours of driving, operating or being in physical control of a motor vehicle;
  • The presence of a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle - at the time of your arrest, if the child is more than 36 months younger than the driver; and/or
  • qualified prior impaired driving incident - within ten years of the date of the new offense.
Qualified prior driving incidents include both: (i.) prior DWI convictions, and (ii.) prior impaired driving-related losses of one's driver's license or operating privileges. 

For separate "driving incidents" - those could involve convictions in any kind of motor vehicle - including a passenger motor vehicle, a Head Start bus, a commercial motor vehicle, an airplane, a snowmobile, an all-terrain vehicle, an off-road recreational vehicle, or even a motorboat.

Prior impaired driving-related losses of license include - Implied Consent revocations. An example of this might be - someone was arrested for a DWI and lost their driver's license; but, the DWI criminal charges were eventually plead down (to something like Careless Driving,) dismissed outright by the government and/or the person charged won at trial.

So, How will you Be Charged? 
  • If there were zero factors are present at the time of arrest, then you will be charged with a 4th Degree DWI - a Misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is a fine of $1,000 and/or a 90 day jail sentence.   
  • If one factor is present then you will be charged with a 3rd Degree DWI - a Gross Misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is a fine of $3,000 and/or a 1 year jail sentence. 
  • If two factors are present then you will be charged with a 2nd Degree DWI - a Gross Misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is also a fine of $3,000 and/or a 1 year jail sentence.   
Also, if this is your Fourth DWI arrest - over a 10 year period - you could be charged with a 1st Degree DWI - a Felony. The maximum penalty is 7 years in prison and/or $14,000 fine.

Confused? You're not alone.

I do this everyday - and there are still times that it still sounds like Greek to me. 

That being said, you can make sure that you get the information you need - and the best defense possible against these charges by speaking to an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Top 5 Things To Do When Stopped by the Cops - DWI Edition

I've done it - and maybe you have too. You're out with friends or family and you have a couple of drinks with dinner. Not feeling "drunk" - you get in your car and you drive home. The next thing you know - BAM - there are red and blue flashing lights in your rear-view mirror and soon you're being asked by the police - "Sir, how much have you had to drink this evening?"

As you may already be aware, it isn't illegal to drink alcohol and drive. But... it's natural, when encountered by the cops, to feel nervous or even to be scared when you've had some alcohol, drove and then by the police.

Knowing what to do in that situation is essential. Believe or not, how you react can go along way toward determining whether or not you'll wake up in your own bed the next morning - or - in jail.

Here are 5 tips that could help you navigate a stressful situation.

#1 - Don't Do the Cops Job For Them - Don't Talk About Your Drinking 

We all have Constitutional rights - the greatest among them is the right to remain silent and the right not to incriminate ourselves. These rights exist whether or not you are under arrest and when you are in your car and an officer is asking you questions - above and beyond name name and date of birth. Don't be afraid to respectfully exercise these rights.

When the cops start asking you about where you've been, where you're going, or what you've been drinking - believe it or not their biggest concern ususally isn't about you - or your well being. What they're actually do is gather information - that they might use against you at a later time. Often, these exchanges are the beginings of a DWI investigation. Remember, you don't have to answer these questions. Offer up you identification information and then graciously zip your lip.

2. Don't Do the Cops Job For Them - The Field Sobriety Tests

Did you know, you have no obligation to participate in the roadside gymnastics/field sobriety tests that an officer might ask you to take? Sure, you're going to want to cooperate - right? It's natural to feel as though you can "impress" the officer by trying to do what he asks. But believe me, you are taking quite a risk - because if this officer decides you've failed these silly little tests, you're going to do more harm to his or her impression of you than you could have ever done good.  Plus, field sobriety tests won't tell an officer (or anyone else for that matter) if you can safely drive a vehicle. Rather, all they do is give that officer much more information to use against you later to prove that your were driving drunk.

3. Don't Do the Cops Job For Them - The Roadside Breath Test (the "PBT")

The reasons for this are the same reasons as with why you should polite decline doing the field sobriety tests - you don't have to, it doesn't help you - it helps them, and they're often unreliable. Again, just say no.

4. If You Feel Uncomfortable - Ask to Speak to a Minnesota DWI Attorney

The moment you're placed under arrest - you are supposed to be entitled to a Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer. Once you ask for an attorney, the police are should stop questioning you and take reasonable steps to get you get in touch with a lawyer. That's your Constitutional Rights - use it. Don't let the cops try to talk you out of it. I know this is going to be hard to understand, but asking for a lawyer does not make you look guilty. It makes you look smart. People ask for attorneys because they need expert help to deal with the police. Don't be afraid to get help.

5. Remain Calm and Treat the Police With Respect - Even if They're Rude to You 

A DWI investigation is not fun - for anyone. And believe it or not, that kind officer who on another occasion helped find your dog, may not have that same disposition when it comes to investigating you for a crime.

No matter how hard it can (and will) be - you have to remain calm and hold your tongue. If you don't - your actions will be used against you later --- this I can assure you. The calmer you remain and the less you let the cops frazzle you the better your case.

The next time you are stopped and investigated for a Drunk Driving, put these five suggestions to use. You'll be glad you did. If your reading this after you've been stopped (and thinking - "where was this before I was so stupid?") don't fret. Just because you've been arrested for a DWI does not mean you will be convicted of that offense.

Be smart, now, and contact an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney to explain to you your rights and to fight for you in court.