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.

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