Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Top 5 Minnesota DWI "Rules"

Although there is really only one foolproof way to "beat" a Minnesota Drunk Driving arrest, there are some things that you can do to protect yourself from doing the government's work for them. 

Sure, if you follow these "rules" it is quite possible that you will be arrested; but, if you don't follow them, it is just as likely that you'll be taken into custody. The difference between the two?  Well, for one, you can save yourself from giving law enforcement the kinds of evidence that they will later use against you in court.  In addition, you might make it easier for an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney to win you a favorable result - when and if you are ever charged with Drunk Driving.

It goes without saying that the easiest way to avoid the attention of law enforcement - when traveling on the highways and byways of the State of Minnesota is to follow the rules of the road.  This includes - abiding by the speed limit (the most common circumstance I've seen for the cops to initiate a vehicle stop,) not texting and driving, wearing your seat belt, coming to a complete stop for stop signs and/or traffic lights, and driving entirely within your lane of travel.  If you've failed to heed this warning, then you need to follow these rules.

#1 - Never Admit to Drinking

Don't get me wrong, any contact with law enforcement is bound to be stressful and often, a certain human-instinct kicks in where you want to be helpful. If you're like me, you either believe you can negotiate your way through the situation - proving your innocence to the police officer - and/or you somehow come to think that if you cooperate with him that he'll take some sort of pity upon you and in the face of (often) insurmountable evidence just let you go.  Believe me, neither of these courses of action is better than doing and saying nothing.

When the police start asking you about where you've been, where you're going, or what you've been drinking - believe it or not their #1 concern isn't - or your well being; rather, what they're trying to do is gather information - that they might use against you at a later time.

Remember, your right to remain silent - you don't have to answer these questions. Instead, offer up you identification information and then graciously zip your lip.

#2 - Field Sobriety Tests - Don't Do 'Em!

In the past, I've tried to make my opinions known on this issue - here, here, and here.  The simple truth of the matter is - virtually nothing you can do during the performance of these tests is going to make it any less certain that you will not be arrested.  Remember, your performance on these "tests" is being judge by someone who thinks you've been driving drunk.  With that said, isn't safe to assume that he is not going to be looking for your successes; rather, his focus is going to be on your failures - where you're performance is not perfect.  Therefore, this rule is a simple one -  say No to the Field Sobriety Tests.

#3 - The Portable Breath Test - Don't Do it!

The reasons for this are the same reasons as for why you should politely decline doing the Field Sobriety Tests - you don't have to, it doesn't help you, it helps the officer make his case against you, and they're often unreliable.  In addition, this test is not allowed to be entered into evidence in your case.  Again, just say NO to the PBT!

#4 - Exercise your Right to Speak to Minnesota DWI Attorney
If you do as I've suggested you do - it is all but certain that at some point you'll be arrested.  At that moment, you're supposed to entitled to speak a Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer. Once you ask for an attorney, the police are should stop any questioning of you and take the reasonable steps to get you get in touch with a lawyer. That's your Constitutional Right - 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 an expert help them deal with the police. Don't be afraid to get help.

#5 - Treat the Police With Respect - Even if They're Rude to You 

DWI investigations are 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 dealing with you when he thinks you've been driving drunk.

No matter how hard it can (and often 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 get to you - the better your case.


The next time you are stopped and investigated for 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.

Take the next right step - be smart, now, and contact an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney to explain to you your rights and to fight for you in court.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

BWI - Boating While Intoxicated (Explained)

The calender now reads SUMMER - even if the weather does not concur - and in Minnesota that means one thing --- hitting the lakes. As you do so in your boat or personal water craft - so is the government.

Yes, as part of a national effort to crack down on alcohol and drug related accidents and fatalities on the water, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is engaging in something called Operation Dry Water (you have got to love these names - right?) looking for impaired boat captains.  If you're planning on dropping anchor this weekend, here are a few things you might want to keep in mind if your boating fun also includes a few adult beverages.

The Basics

Just like with driving a motor vehicle, in the State of Minnesota, it is illegal to operate a boat or personal watercraft with a blood alcohol concentration greater than (.08) percent.  Those in excess of the legal limit may be charged with BWI (Boating While Intoxicated).

Just like with Drunk Driving, a first time BWI charge is usually classified as a Misdemeanor - which could result in the imposition of a $1,000 fine and a jail sentence of up to 90 days.  You could also see your boating privileges suspended for up to 90 days.  In addition, the enhancement factors - which could raise a 1st time offense to a more serious criminal classification - are also applied in BWI case.  Therefore, if your piloting your boat with a blood alcohol concentration of (.20) percent or more, have a prior conviction for DWI (or BWI) or a were convicted of failing to submit a sample of your blood, breath or urine for testing in the 10 years prior to the new charge, and/or there's a passenger under the age 16 on board at the time of the offense - you could be looking at a Gross Misdemeanor of Felony level charge. 

Different than a DWI?

As much as they might be the same, BWI laws also differ from the Drunk Driving laws in a number of ways too.  One of the most important is that an officer - who usually needs to assert a reasonably articulable suspicion to legally stop your vehicle - doesn't always need such a well defined reason to board your boat. More often than not, the police can come aboard for safety or security reasons. Then, if the officer notes the smell of alcohol or sees evidence of drinking, he can begin an investigation.   

Another significant difference in BWI prosecution is the impact that the sun can have on the boater's body - especially when alcohol is involved.  As opposed to when you're drinking a beer in a bar - when your body is processing alcohol in a way you're familiar with - because alcohol works to dehydrate you (as does a day in the sun) it is often easy to underestimate the effect that alcohol is having on you. This often leads to greater consumption - especially if it's a cold beer on a hot day - which can result in a higher alcohol concentration in your system.

What Should You Do?

If you're a regular follower of this blog, you'll note some of the suggestions I've made when having contact with the police- in the context of a Drunk Driving stops.  A lot of those same warnings should be heeded by you when having contact with an officer while out on the lake - and your being suspected of BWI.

If you've been arrested, your next best step is to contact an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney to learn your rights, to fight for you in court and to protect your future.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Got Your DWI Yet?

Believe it or nor not, one in seven Minnesota drivers as a DWI on his or her driving record. According to the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety, in 2009 (the year for which they have the most complete statistics) 32,756 motorists were arrested for Drunk Driving while driving on the highways and byway through out the state.. Do the math... that means that on any given day - 90 Minnesota drivers are cited for Driving Drunk.  Of those individuals, 41%  of them already have at least on "prior" Drunk Driving conviction on their record. 

To many, these numbers point to only one conclusion - that we, as a society, have a problem.  As such, the call has gone out to: (a.) the police to beef-up their DWI enforcement efforts; (b.) the legislature to increase the penalties associated with a Drunk Driving conviction; and, (c.) the citizenry - to call out other drivers and report them to the government.  

With these sorts of efforts and tactics in place - if you choose to drive drunk - it’s probably only a matter of time before your are caught. If you, or someone you love has been arrested for DWI, you need to have an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney on your side. Not only can he serve as a big relief in a situation where it seems like no one is on your side, he can also fight for you, your rights, your wallet and your future. 

Make the next, right move - contact an attorney and take advantage of their free consultation offer to discuss the details of your case. Before you make a decision that will most assuredly impact your future - and that of your loved ones - learn about the options available to you.

Friday, June 17, 2011

You Need a Lawyer - The Right Lawyer

After resolving the question of whether you actually need the services of an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney - if you've been charged with a criminal infraction - your attention should then turn to: Who do you hire

First, know this - you will have almost no chance of getting the result you desire for your case if you choose the wrong attorney.

The sad truth is that, like with any profession, there are some good Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorneys and some ... not so good one.  This is especially true in the area of Minnesota DWI law. 

If you are facing Drunk Driving charges - of any nature - you must recognize that you're going to up against experienced prosecutors who come to court armed with professional, trained, government witnesses (cops) and a slew of "scientific” evidence - all purposed on convicting you. Therefore, it's important that you have someone on your side who can help mount a strong defense.  Someone who knows and understands the government's schemes, tactics and motivations - inside and out.

My experience as a former prosecutor affords me the sort of insider's perspective that has helped my clients win the results they desire.  

In the context of DWI cases, I'm sure we all know someone who has had an experience with an attorney who's only strategy was to quickly plead his client guilty - without conducting a proper investigation into the facts and/or challenging the government's evidence.


In my opinion, it's because too many lawyers in this area do not have the knowledge and training required to properly go after the government's so-called "scientific" evidence - like the blood, breath and urine samples they often rely on to convict you.  As such, they give their clients bad advice - rather than admitting to their own shortcomings.

I often have to explain to clients that just because you've been charged with an offense - it does not mean that you will be found guilty of it. However, being innocent or wrongly accused often (unfairly) isn’t enough. Sometimes you need to have an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense/DWI Attorney on your side to gather the resources necessary to aggressively defend you.

I take pride in the fact that I am not only prepared to take on representation of my clients - in the same manner and style I would for a family member or loved one - but also that I'm dedicated to winning my clients the right results by employing every tool that the law will allow. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

MN DWI Law - Ignition Interlocks (Explained)

Although there may be some celebrating north of the border on July 1st as our Canadian cousins celebrate their country's birthday - here in the good old USA, and Minnesota specifically, the hip,hip hurrahs maybe in short supply. 

Come July 1, 2011, Minnesota is enacting new DWI laws that purport to substantially punish repeat offenders.  However, this new initiative may actually have the effect of getting Drunk Drivers back on the road sooner.  Specifically, the new legislation seeks to expand the use of Ignition Interlock technology- giving the violator the option of having one of these devices installed in their vehicle - in exchange for the chance to regain driving privileges sooner than what's afforded them under the current law.

Of course, as with most (new or established) government initiatives - there are going to be issues.  Some of the questions include: whether there is any guarantee that the device will be installed; how well will they work; should drivers that have a cancelled or revoked license be given the chance to regain their driving privileges so soon; and given that the device is a bit costly and may be optional to install, will it prevent most offenders from using it?

The State of Minnesota has set up an official ignition interlock website. However, as with most new laws, I and my fellow, experienced Minnesota Defense Attorneys have some concerns. Such as, not only will prospective users have to meet certain qualifications and follow rather precise procedures ... these devices could end up being very expensive to maintain and will most assuredly add to the financial penalties that a DWI causes.

What's new?

What is clear is that the new law may require first time Drunk Drivers with blood alcohol levels of (.16) or more - and all repeat offenders -  to install a breath-testing ignition lockout device on their vehicle. Proponents of these portable breathalyzers assert that they will keep vehicles from being able to be started if the driver's blood alcohol level is above (.02). The idea being --- If you are too drunk to drive, your car won’t start.


At the onset, the devices will cost approximately $50 to install and remove. On top of that, it may cost another $100 per month to monitor.

What Should You Do?

If this new legislation is any indication, Drunk Driving penalties are on the rise in Minnesota.  Therefore, it is more important than ever that if you or someone you love is facing a DWI charge that you seek out the services of an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney - someone who knows what they're doing and who can ensure that you receive the best defense possible.

If you are facing a Drunk Driving charges, contact me today at (651) 234-1165 to set up a free, no obligation, consultation to learn about all of your options.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Domestic Assault - Explained

As criminal cases go, Domestic Assault is often the most difficult to deal with.  The accusations, which are can be easily made, are extremely serious and no matter the outcome of the case - life changing consequences are often the result. 

Domestic Assault charges are very powerful claims which affect everyone involved. The accused is often concerned with the stress of dealing with their criminal case - the possible betrayal by the loved one who's making the accusation - and the difficulty of working through the feelings of judgment from other individuals in their life.

Often, you feel as though you have no one is listening to you - and you have nowhere to turn. One right choice you can make is to reach out to an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney - because you need someone on your side, fighting for you, your rights and your future. 

What's Going to Happen?

A conviction for Domestic Assault can mean serious consequences including fines, jail time (or even prison for repeat offenders,) and certain programming - like anger management and chemical dependency treatment or other classes. In addition to any legal punishment the judge might impose, these charges and/or a conviction also come with a handful of collateral consequences that can affect the accused's parental rights, their iimmigration status, their right to own and possess firearms, their living situation and their jobs and employment possibilities.

With all of that on the line, don't you need someone working for you who understands the intense emotions surrounding these serious criminal charges?

Who Can Help?

I do my best to keep clients informed about all aspects of their cases and involve them in their defense. By looking into self-defense claims and witness credibility issues - along with employing powerful defense strategies, my aggressive representation will protect your rights if you have been charged with Domestic Assault.

If you have been charged with a crime of Domestic Violence - my advice is to contact an attorney immediately. An experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney can quickly begin to protect your rights and assure that your side of the story is heard.

Make sure your lawyer takes the time to listen to your point of view and fully understand your objectives.