Monday, October 31, 2011

Minnesota DWI Myths - Part 1 (Explained)

There are a lot of "my friend said that..." stories about DWIs out there.  Like noses, almost everyone has one --- some are big, some are small ... and some just smell.  Here are a couple of those stories and the truth you need to know - straight from the mouth of an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney.

1. I have to be driving in order to be convicted of a DWI.

Wrong! Of all the things that are required to find someone guilty of a DWI driving is not one of them.  All that's required is something called "physical control” - while having a too much alcohol in your system at the time of said control. That means that if you get behind the wheel of a vehicle, and decide that you have had too much to drink, your decision to “sleep it off” right there may lead to a conviction of the offense anyway, just as if you had decided to take a chance and drive home. It is immaterial that you felt as if you were doing the prudent thing.

TIP: If you have to sleep it off in your vehicle, it is better if you sleep in the back seat, or the passenger seat, and do not put the key in the ignition. This is not really recommended, however, as prosecutors may still argue that you had the ability to start the vehicle and drive away. Call a cab whenever you are unsafe to drive.

2. If I am stopped by a police officer, I have the right to consult with a lawyer to determine whether to answer his questions, or to decide whether submit to a blood or breath test.

Nope.... Now, you do have a constitutional right to speak with an attorney - but that does not kick in until you're arrested.  Therefore, on the side of the road - you're kinda sorta on your own.  That being said, short of telling the officer who you are you are under no additional obligation to answer his questions and/or do ANYTHING he requests you to do (like the field sobriety tests.)  Once you get back to the station - then you'll get your chance to talk with an attorney.

TIP: Although you are generally expected to answer a police officer’s legitimate “identity” type questions, you should not admit to having consumed any alcohol or any controlled substances. By doing so, especially with controlled substances (prescribed or not,) you may be admitting to a felony. When in doubt, don’t talk. You should only agree to take tests that are required by law. Don’t volunteer to take any tests that are not required. Ask if the test is required.

3. I have to be intoxicated, or “under the influence” in order to be convicted of Driving Under the Influence.

Your driving patterns, your ability or inability to safely operate your vehicle, and indeed, your intoxication, or lack of intoxication, are often not the most relevant things at issue when it comes to being convicted of a Minnesota DWI.  Sure, some drivers are convicted of Drunk Driving because of their poor driving conduct - however, the overwhelming majority are not what most would normally call “intoxicated.” In fact, most drivers are convicted not because they are operating a vehicle while they are intoxicated, but rather because the evidentiary test of their blood, breath or urine indicates a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) above the legal limit of (.08).

What Should You Do?
The number on myth I'd like to explode is this: I can defend myself effectively in this kind of case, if I just let the judge know the facts.

Sure, if you have a stomach ache - maybe it's okay to take in some Pebto.  Or, if you have a headache - to self-diagnoses and pop a couple of Advil.  However, if you break a bone or your appendix bursts - your best bet would be to talk to an expert.  I'm sure no one would say that you should personally attempt to remove that appendix or set that bone.

If you're arrested for a Minnesota DWI, you need an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney to help you get past the many pitfalls and adverse consequences - criminal and civil - that lie in your path.  Do yourself a favor and (at a minimum) consult with someone one who is experienced in the defense of DWI cases, and who is well versed on the law and facts regarding these offenses. Your investment in such representation is essential. 

Call the Rolloff Law Office today to set up your free consultation.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Minnesota DWIs - A Racket?

Many (including myself) I believe are under the mistaken belief that Minnesota's DWI laws are “Drunk Driving” laws - which make it illegal for intoxicated drivers to operate vehicles.  Well, as a former prosecutor and (now) a Minnesota DWI Attorney, I can confidently assert that nothing could be further from the truth.

Initially, before "science" got involved, most DWI arrests were based on subjective opinions of a trained law enforcement officer.  The, many years ago, the American Medical Association (AMA) was asked to supply a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) value that would be consistent with impaired driving. The value that the AMA came up with was 0.15 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.

Over time, that number was reduced - due to lobbying from victims’ rights groups, like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and also due to a very negative public perception of drunk drivers - from (.10) to the current accepted standard of (.08).

One would think that as a result of these changes we're all a little safer - and sure when the value was decreased from (.15) down to (.10) the decrease in highway deaths and injuries was significant.  However, the most recent reduction in the number - (.10) to (.08) did not return such a result.

This begs the question: Why?

As an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney, I believe that we have reached a point of diminishing returns because the current BAC number - (.08) - does not correspond to a consistently measurable level of impairment. Honestly, who can't argue that sure maybe some people are impaired at (08) but many more are not. But, the law makes no distinction between the impaired driver and the driver who is merely “over the limit.” In other words, it makes no difference if you are drunk or not if your breath, blood or urine test reveals a BAC greater than (.08).

What You Should Know

  1. It is LEGAL in the State of Minnesota to drive, operate or control a motor vehicle after drinking alcohol. What's ILLEGAL is doing that if you are under the influence of alcohol, or if your BAC level is over (.08);
  2. Your sobriety is rarely being evaluated by officers who make arrests. Rather, what the officer is really trying to do is confirm his suspicion that you're in fact drunk by having you perform those silly Field Sobriety Tests - which do not themselves indicate intoxication but rather tend to predict an elevated BAC level.  As such, I suggest that you NEVER do them.  (It is rare that someone can prove that he is innocent - and often performing these tests does much more harm than good;) 
  3. Even if you are physically able to safely operate a motor vehicle with a (.08) BAC - the government says you're driving illegally if you do so;
  4. You are able to testify to what you think your BAC was at the time of operating a motor vehicle; and
  5. A complete lack of impairment (ie. "passing" the Field Sobriety Tests) is never a defense to a (.08) or Over DWI charge.

What Should You Do?

As an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney, I can work to ensure that your rights are preserved and that all of the proper challenges to your arrest are filed in a timely manner - and fought against in court. If you or someone you love is facing a DWI or Drunk Driving charge, call the Rolloff Law Office - at (612) 234-1165 - today to set up a free consultation to learn about your options.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No Means No? DWI Refusals (Explained)

A charge of DWI - Test Refusal is in many ways a lot like an arrest for Drunk Driving.  However, the crime isn't driving while intoxicated; rather, the offender is charged with refusing to submit to a test of their blood, breath or urine - at a time in which law enforcement has probable cause to believe they were driving drunk.

The difference may sound minor - to anyone but a lawyer - but the outcome quite serious.  Under the laws of the State of Minnesota, an officer can require someone to submit to a DWI test if the he has reason believe that the individual was driving while under the influence of alcohol.  This is Minnesota’s Implied Consent law.  (Believe it or not, by driving on a public roadway in the state you automatically consent to submitting to such a test if law enforcement proper cause.)  Refusing to take this test is a crime, which is often more severe than a regular DWI if you had in fact just agreed to the chemical test.

Why is a Refusal Worse than a Drunk Driving Arrest?

Initially, Test Refusal was a more lenient charge than a Drunk Driving - under certain circumstances.  However, those that came before us burned that bridge by refusing tests (to receive lower consequences than if they had taken the test) at a rate that caused the powers that be changed the law to make it equal to the most severe DWI you can receive under the circumstances.  Therefore,  today is very little incentive to refuse the test.

If it's a Crime, Why Do Individuals Still Refuse?

The most common excuse I've seen for not submitting a sample of one's blood, breath or urine for testing is because they're confused about the request in the first place.  If you've read this blog, you know that I often advise individuals to not talk with the police and refuse their requests for things like searches, providing statements and the like in order to protect their rights.  However, refusing a DWI test has the exact opposite effect - it imposes severe criminal liability. 

Prior to seeing the required sample, this is laid out quite clearly by the officer seeking submission to the test - when he recites the Implied Consent Warning.  However, that warning fails to explain that you also quite likely opening yourself up to harsher consequences than if you'd have go through with the test in the first place.

How Do You Fight This Charge?

Law enforcement can require submission to a test only if they have probable cause to believe that you've been drinking and driving.  So, the best way to avoid a charge is to prevent creating probable cause - don't drink and drive.  That being said, I am sure if you're reading this that ship has passed.  If you've been cited for Refusal - you need the assistance of an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney

Not only will they fight to preserve your rights and your future.  They also will be able to discern whether someone actually refused.  That's right - often these cases come into being not because someone says "no" to the test - but rather because there are times that an officer assumes such a response.  If that's the situation in your case call The Rolloff Law Office today at (612) 234-1165.  I believe I can root out the holes in these assumptions and in turn get you the best outcome possible.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Minnesota DWI Penalties - The Non-Criminal Ones

In Minnesota, a Drunk Driving charge can lead not only to criminal consequences but one could also be subject to certain civil penalties.  The criminal matter is, of course, handled by the prosecutor and has the potential for jail, fines and other sanctions.  However, and many people who have never been down this road before fail to recognize this, a DWI arrest will also place into jeopardy not only one's ability to drive legally but it could also lead to the loss of their vehicle and/or the vehicle's license plates.  These are the possible civil consequences.  And understand this, these matters are entirely separate from an individuals criminal case. This is why consulting with an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney is essential to upholding your rights.

Loss of Driver's License

Outside of what could come one's way in criminal court, the number one civil consequence I'm most quizzed about by my clients who have been arrested for Drunk Driving is the status of the driver's license.  The length of revocation varies depending on the specific charges brought against an offender and the circumstances surrounding their arrest.  But, in nearly every case - an individual will be subject to a loss of his or her license and a rather expensive re-instatement fee. Moreover, that loss of driver's license (even if they "win" their criminal case) will qualify as having incurred a "prior" and could have the effect of leading to enhanced penalties in the future if one is again arrest for a Minnesota DWI.

Loss of License Plates

In addition to the loss of one's driver's license, an arrest for Drunk Driving can also lead to the loss of your vehicle's license plates.  Yes, instead of that attractive "Land of 10,000 Lakes" plates you see on over 90% of the vehicles in the State of Minnesota - you could be forced to don the plates of shame - ie., the “whiskey plates.” More often than not, this is not something that occurs for a first time offender; however, if you're facing a third-degree DWI charge (or higher) then this is a very real possibility.

Loss of Vehicle

Although the loss of license might sound severe - especially if you do not  live in an area where public transportation is a viable option - generally speaking the worst consequence one can face if he or she is arrest for a Minnesota DWI is the loss of their vehicle.  If you're charged with a first- or second-degree DWI, the government may seek to keep your vehicle - and eventually sell it at auction or you might be afforded the wonderful chance "re-buy" it from the state.

What Should You Do?

Remember, all of these consequences will not be handled in criminal court.  Rather, if you want to fight against these penalties you must do so on your own action - separately.  If you fail to do so - even if your criminal case is eventually thrown out or resolved as something less than a DWI - you can still suffer their effects. 

As an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney, I can work to ensure that your rights are preserved and that all of the proper challenges to these civil penalties are filed in a timely manner - and fought against in court.  If you or someone you love is facing a DWI or Drunk Driving charge, call the Rolloff Law Office - at (612) 234-1165 - today to set up a free consultation to learn about your options.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Minnesota Expungements - Want or Need One?

As an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney an all too common question I get (about past mis-deeds) is: How long will a Felony or Misdemeanor offense stay on my record?  After I offer my opinion, that question is often followed with another: What are the chances I can get it removed from my record?

Generally speaking, a Felony charge/conviction stays on an individual's criminal record for the remainder of his or her life. Even though somone's repeat offender status may be “re-set” after a certain number of years, courts, law enforcement and a myriad of other governmental agencies tend to maintain a file listing those previous offenses.

That being said, there is a remedy.  It’s called an “Expungement” and requires a legal action to seek to have one's criminal record sealed.

Now, Expungements don't completely erase one's record, however, having one granted will limit who gets to see it.  In this day and age, where even your landlord, your boss and nearly anyone out in the public can, in theory, get their hands on your criminal record - Expungement is an option for many people.

What Can You Do?

So, I'm supposing - you want to know how to get an Expungement - right? Well, for starters, you need to submit an Expungement request to the court, in the county in which you were charged.  The judge will then consider a number of factors - including: how long it has been since the infraction, whether or not the charges were dismissed, what if anything about said arrest implicates public safety, etc.  Based on those factors (and a couple others,) the judge will render a decision.

If you or someone you love is in need of advice when it comes to seeking an Expungement, contact the Rolloff Law Office today for a FREE consultation.  .

Your record can affect many aspects of your life. Get informed and find out if an Expungement is an option for you.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Was "The State" (Explained)

Most people who seek out my services are aware that before I became a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney I had an earlier career as an assistant county attorney.  That's right, I was a DA, a prosecutor - and guy who was looking to put people behind bars.

The question I'm often asked on this part of my background is -  Does that make you a better Criminal Defense Attorney?

In a word: Yes. 

Not only did being a prosecutor expose me to the practice of criminal law on a full time basis, it also afforded me the opportunity to work a large number of criminal cases (of any and all types) from simple traffic tickets up to serious felonies including serious Theft, Assault and Drug Charges.  This experience also afforded me something that most people plying the criminal defense trade do not posses - an insight into the government's schemes and motivations.  And it is this inside knowledge that has aided me to in winning my clients the results that they're seeking.

The Switch

My career started out clerking for a district court judge - and in that capacity I got to see the case from the best position in the courtroom - right next to the judge.  I was back in chambers when all of the pre-trial horsetrading was going on and I was there when the tough decision had to be made.  In that time, I definitely learned a lot seeing some of the best lawyers in the state plying their trade on a day to day basis.  Subsequent to that, I reluctantly transitioned into the county attorney's office.  In many ways, I went that direction, first, because I really wanted to hone my skills - to get some extensive litigation work under my belt before I went out on the open market --- asking people to put their fates in my hands.

The Advantages

My experience as a prosecutor has provide me several special benefits as a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney - and in the end this has worked to the advantage of my a defense lawyer.

Trial Experience. A very active defense attorney who enjoys trial (and works hard to get good results for his clients as opposed to doing no work and setting everything for trial) may end up trying 3 to 6 cases a year on average. While numbers vary for prosecutors based on whether they handle felony or misdemeanor cases and the size of the city they are in, most prosecutors try a case to jury every 1-3 weeks. So years spent as a former prosecutor are years where the lawyer gets a lot of experience trying cases and handling all the preparation, strategy, and execution that goes into a criminal trial.

Negotiation Experience. While case loads vary, in large part because the jobs and roles are different, defense lawyers often carry case loads of 100 or less at any given time (some carry more than that but at the cost of not having enough time to put enough work into each case). Prosecutors typically handle over a thousand cases a year, sometimes more depending on the size of the city, the size of the county budget, the number of prosecutors, and the way cases are assigned.

Most prosecutors are in court every day. On any given day prosecutors may negotiate with defense lawyers, have hearings in front of a judge, or argue pre-trial motions. They face constant pressure with heavy caseloads and a steady influx of new cases. A prosecutor must figure out a fair plea offer, think on his or her feet, and change mental gears quickly depending on what is required.

These skills are invaluable in a defense practice. Defense lawyers who learned to handle the role of the prosecutor are comfortable in the courtroom, able to move at the same mental pace as the prosecutor, and have the skill for plea-bargaining born from negotiating with hordes of lawyers day after day.

Perspective. A former prosecutor brings a unique asset to your case that other defense attorneys lack - perspective. This criminal defense lawyer can put himself or herself in the mind of the prosecutor with ease, because he or she once was one. This defense lawyer can evaluate the facts of your case with a prosecutor’s eyes, anticipate the arguments they’ll make, the procedural maneuvers they’ll try to make, and the initial reaction they’ll have to defense arguments. Experienced defense attorneys can also do this to some degree, but its much more difficult to do well without having the experience of having once worked as a prosecutor. Ultimately, this perspective will allow your criminal defense lawyer to more skillfully defend you and better present your case.

What You Should Do

If you or a loved one is in need of legal assistance, your best bet is to touch base with an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney.  Meet with that person, see if he listens and understands what you'd like to see come of your case.  In the end, no matter the price or experience, you have to be able to trust the person you hire.  Remember, you get one chance at this - don't go it alone.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Minnesota DWI and Criminal Attorney Fees (Explained)

Whether or not you've dealt with an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense or DWI Attorney before, you probably assume one thing - it's going to be expensive. And, if you're like me or like most people, you want to get the best lawyer possible for the lowest amount of money, right?

Although I agree that price is a valid factor to consider, you also need to acknowledge this: the Minnesota DWI Attorney that you decide to hire is going to be trusted with a lot of responsibility. He will be holding your life - and your future - in his hands.

If he fails to do the work, put forth the effort or pick up the phone when you call - it's not him that will pay the price.  Rather, you (and you alone) will be the one who could end up in jail, paying huge fines and losing everything that is important to you.

In the end, you need to ask yourself this: What is my freedom, my hard earned money, and my reputation worth to me?

With So Much at Stake, Do You Really Want the Cheapest Option?

Some people can be scared off by the fees I charge.  Now, I'll guarantee you I'm not most expensive Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney out there, but I'm also probably not the cheapest either.  I charge what I charge because I provide more value than the attorneys out there selling you on price. What I offer is, unlike other Minnesota DWI attorneys, great legal services that earn my clients the results that they desire.  I can also assure you that at the end of the day I'm doing everything I can to protect you, your rights and your future. 

Do This Now

If you think you need a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney to help you - odds are you really do need one.  Hey, I'm ready to help. I offer FREE CONSULTATIONS and am ready to help you now.  Call the Rolloff Law Office today at (612) 619-234-1165 to find out how.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Just Because You Were Arrested Does Not Mean That You're Guilty

If I take another call this week from someone who tells me they were arrested for Drunk Driving, they think they need a lawyer - but they maybe they should "just plead guilty and get it over with" - I think I am going to lose it.

Don't get me wrong, the choice to roll over or "to fight" is all in the hands of the accused. But, to do so without fully exploring your options is just insane.  Now that doesn't mean you need to throw good money after a bad result, but you should seriously consider sitting down with an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney and learning your options - the good, the bad and the ugly.  Just because you've been arrested does not mean that you will always be found guilty.  Know your rights before you give up the fight.

One thing too many people assume is that if you "fight" it is only going to get worse.  Well, in my experience that is just not true.  Rarely does any case get work because someone maintains his or her innocence.  Rather, things all to often either stay the same - or (believe it or not) actually get better.

What Should You Do?

Pleas and plea negotiations are a big part of my practice.  But, like with anything - there is a time and a place for those things and going into a case expecting to immediately plead to the first available offer is the number one way to end up being punished far more harshly than the law typically allows.

Some of these calls are a direct result of the government's lawyers gone wild.  As a former prosecutor, I should know.  All to often, a prosecutor is more than willing at the onset to push every case as far as he can, without regard to any individual's circumstances or any facts that could lead to a reduced charge or sentence.  It's only as your case gets little more ripe - as it ages - that those things that only looked like minor flaws at the onset become major gaps as your trial approaches.

My clients are continually surprised at the number of good defenses that can be raised to take on a poor charge - be it for Drunk Driving, Assault, Theft - you name it.  Therefore, before you give in and plead to a charge, it is always a good idea to talk to an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney. In most cases, the only way to take on an our of control prosecutor is to have an aggressive defense attorney on your side - on who has the inside scoop on the government's motivations and schemes.

If you want to talk to a former prosecutor, for free, about your case --- call the Rolloff Law Office today.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Arrested and Jailed on the Weekend (Explained)

All though law enforcement works 24/7/365, the Courts often operate on a schedule more akin to "banker's hours."  As such, it is all too common that someone arrested on a Friday night for something like Drunk Driving might find himself held in custody until he can see a judge on Monday or Tuesday morning.  As such - your obligations, your family and your job might be placed in jeapoardy. 

What Should You Do?

As an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney I can work on your behalf to get bail set on the weekend - and get you or your loved one out of jail.. 

I've had success having reasonable bails set and getting my clients out of custody so that they can get to their jobs and minimize the initial impact of an arrest.

If you or someone you love has been arrested, contact the Rolloff Law Office at (612) 234-1165 or to learn  how to fully exercise your rights and to fight for your future.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

MN DWI - Alcohol Monitoring (Explained)

If you have been cited for a first or second-degree Minnesota DWI, you could find yourself subjected to alcohol-sensative monitoring time - even before you're ever found guilty and sentenced for a crime.  Upon arrest for certain Drunk Driving offenses, individuals face pre-trial conditions - often those include electronic home monitoring of possible alcohol consumption.

Often, as a condition of almost any DWI arrest, is abstaining from alcohol.  As the nature of those offenses becomes more serious - ie., that either the alcohol in your system at the time of the arrest was high and/or you have a history of being arrested for alcohol-related driving offenses - you could also be subjected to monitoring whereby you are constantly assessed to see whether you're in compliance with said condition. 

In the State of Minnesota, such monitoring is often invoked for people who fall into one of the following categories:
  • A third alcohol related driving offense within the past ten years;
  • A second such violation, if under 19 years old;
  • A violation that occurred when one's license was already cancelled as inimical to public safety for a prior violation; or
  • A violation involving an alcohol concentration of (.20) or more.
In addition to pre-trial monitoring, there can also be a post-sentencing condition imposed upon you as well.  According to state lawmakers, most third-time DWI offenders (and all DWI offenders under the age of 19) must submit to such "testing" for a for a period time while on probation - after they've been punished. 

What Can You Do?

Ask yourself this question: Are you ready to be monitored? It may not be up to you. But you can get the support, knowledgeable and experience of Minnesota DWI Attorney to help you and to ensure that your rights are protected and that the consequences imposed upon you are the best deal possible.

Call the Rolloff Law Office today to set up a free consultation.  Let me put my experience as a former prosecutor to work for you.  I'll use what the government taught me to your advantage.  Call today - (612) 234-1165.