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.

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