Friday, September 7, 2012

MN DWI Questions (Answered)

As an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney, I get a lot of question, lots and lots of questions.  Here are some of the most common - and some answers too.

How drunk does someone have to be before he can be convicted of a Minnesota DWI?

It's illegal to drive a car while "impaired" by the effects of alcohol or drugs (including prescription drugs). This means that ANY alcohol or drugs in a driver's body that prevents him from thinking clearly or driving safely can end up leading to a Drunk Driving conviction.  Many people reach this level well before they'd be considered "drunk" or "stoned." In every state, an adult who has a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08% or above is guilty of a DWI.  If the driver is under the age of 21 - then ANY amount of alcohol could lead to a citation.

How do the cops determine whether a driver is under the influence or intoxicated?

Police typically use three methods of determining whether a driver is under the influence.

Observation. A police officer will pull you over if he notices that you are driving erratically -- swerving, speeding, failing to stop, or even driving too slowly. Of course, you may have a good explanation for your driving (tiredness, for example), but an officer is unlikely to buy your story if he smells alcohol on your breath, or notices slurred words or unsteady movements.

Sobriety tests. If an officer suspects that you are under the influence, he will probably ask you to get out of the car and perform a series of fiels-sobriet tests - such as standing on one leg, walking a straight line heel-to-toe, or reciting a line of letters or numbers. The officer will look closely at your eyes, checking for pupil enlargement or constriction, which can be evidence of intoxication, and will judge your ability to follow exact instructions. If you fail these tests, the officer may arrest you or ask you to take a chemical test.

Blood-alcohol level. The amount of alcohol in your body is understood by measuring the amount of alcohol in your blood. This measurement can be taken directly by drawing a sample of your blood, or it can be calculated by applying a mathematical formula to the amount of alcohol in your breath or urine. Some states give you a choice of whether to take a breath, blood, or urine test -- others do not. If you test at or above .08 % blood-alcohol concentration, you are presumed to be driving under the influence, unless you can convince a judge or jury that your judgment was not impaired and you were not driving dangerously. Defense attorneys often question the validity of the conversion formula when driver's alcohol levels are based on breath or urine tests.

Do I have to take a breathalyzer, blood test, or urine test if I am stopped for DUI or DWI?

You may refuse to take a chemical test (breathalyzer, blood test, or urine test) during a DWI stop, but if you do so --- you'll likely be charged with another offense: Refusal.  See, like in almost every other state, Minnesota has an "implied consent" law.  This means - by virtue of the fact that you chose to drive --- you've already consented to such a search (if it is legally sought.)  Therefore, if you don't take the test - you could be charged with a crime.  

What now?

If you've been arrested for a Minnesota DWI and you need (or even think you need) help --- call the Rolloff Law Office today to get FREE Answers.  Call: (612) 234-1165.

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