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
- 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);
- 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;)
- 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;
- You are able to testify to what you think your BAC was at the time of operating a motor vehicle; and
- 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.