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The Minnesota Department of Health reports that approximately one in seven Minnesotans has a DWI on record. In 2021, there were 24,324 DWI arrests, and alcohol-related crashes resulted in 2,228 injuries.

Drinking and driving can have serious consequences. If you get caught, the odds of getting a DWI dropped in Minneapolis are slim. But it’s not impossible.

The legal system is intimidating and complicated, especially when trying to navigate complex charges like DWIs. Understanding it better can help protect your rights.

Knowing what steps to take after being charged with a DWI can make all the difference when it’s time for sentencing. At Martine Law, our experienced team of criminal defense attorneys develops strategies that may reduce or even dismiss your charges.

Our DWI attorneys have an impressive track record of successfully defending clients against DWI charges.

In this blog, we’ll explain the legal options available to you if you are pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Understanding DWI Laws in Minnesota

Before learning about how to get your DWI charges dropped, it’s important to understand Minnesota DWI laws.

A DWI (Driving While Impaired) charge is considered a serious criminal offense in Minnesota, even for first-time offenders, as outlined in Minnesota Statute § 169A.20. Although some states use the term DUI (Driving Under the Influence), the terms are interchangeable.

An individual can face a DWI charge under the following circumstances:

  • They are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, impairing their ability to operate a vehicle.
  • They knowingly consume a hazardous substance that significantly impacts their driving capabilities.
  • They are 21 years old or older and operate a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.
  • They drive with a Schedule I or II controlled substance in their system, with the exception of marijuana.

For commercial drivers, the legal limit is 0.04% BAC, and for drivers under the age of 21, any amount of alcohol in their system is illegal.

Facing DUI allegations requires immediate action with the support of an experienced attorney. Even a first-offense DUI in Minnesota can lead to substantial penalties and snowball into more severe consequences in the future.

Penalties for First-Time DWI Conviction in Minnesota

The consequences of a DWI conviction can be severe. Depending on the details of the case, punishments may range from license suspension or revocation to jail time and hefty fines. Even first-time offenders face serious penalties that could have a long-term impact on their livelihoods and futures. 

A first-time DUI, or a first offense in ten years, is classified as a misdemeanor charge. In Minnesota, a fourth-degree DWI is a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum jail sentence of 90 days and a fine of $1,000.

A first-time DUI may escalate to a gross misdemeanor under certain conditions:

  • The driver refused to take a test.
  • The driver recorded a BAC of .16% or higher.
  • A passenger under the age of sixteen was in the vehicle.

A gross misdemeanor carries heavier penalties than a regular misdemeanor, including up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $3,000. Additionally, first-time offenders are required to undergo chemical dependency assessments as part of their sentence.

Further consequences can be significant:

Fortunately, there are options available for those facing charges, including ways to contest the evidence or fight the charge in court. Anyone charged with a DWI should consult an attorney as soon as possible.

With legal counsel and an experienced DWI attorney on your side, you may be able to minimize potential punishmentsor even avoid them altogether.

Options for Fighting a DWI Charge

When a police report has been made and you have been charged with a DWI offense, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. However, it’s important to remember that there are several ways to fight a DWI charge.

Here are some of the options:

  • Challenging the stop: Your attorney may be able to challenge the legality of the traffic stop that led to your DWI arrest. 
  • Challenging the field sobriety test: Field sobriety tests are not always accurate, and your attorney may be able to challenge the results.
  • Challenging the breathalyzer test: Breathalyzer tests are often used as evidence in DWI cases, but they can be challenged on the basis of improper calibration or maintenance.
  • Negotiating a plea bargain: In some cases, it may be possible to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor, which could result in a reduced charge or sentence.
  • Going to trial: If all other options have been exhausted, you may need to go to trial and present your case in front of a judge or jury.

It is important to remember that each DWI case is unique, and the best option for fighting a DWI charge will depend on the specific circumstances of your case.

Consulting with a seasoned DWI defense attorney is the best way to determine your options and develop a strong defense strategy.

Resources for Avoiding Future DWI Offenses

Facing a DWI conviction can be a challenging ordeal, but taking proactive steps toward rehabilitation is crucial for avoiding future offenses.

#1. Education on DWI Consequences

The first step in avoiding future DWI offenses is education. There are numerous resources available to help you understand the consequences of drinking and driving and how to prevent it from happening again.

#2.  Participation in Online Courses

Another thing you can do is to participate in online courses designed for those convicted of a DWI. These courses provide information about the risks associated with drinking and driving and strategies for avoiding similar situations in the future.

#3. Counseling and Support

Lastly, there are organizations that offer counseling services aimed at helping individuals stay accountable while they’re dealing with their DWI convictions.

Successfully navigating the aftermath of a DWI conviction requires more than personal commitment to change; it also benefits greatly from professional legal guidance.

A skilled criminal defense attorney can provide essential support by helping you understand your legal obligations, exploring options for reduced penalties or alternative sentencing, and ensuring compliance with court-mandated requirements.

Contact a Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

A first-offense DWI can be a scary and overwhelming experience,  but with the right legal team on your side, you can rest assured that you will be informed every step of the way and will have an advocate fighting to protect your rights. 

Remember that the team at Martine Law is here to help you. Our qualified criminal defense attorneys have years of experience and will help you navigate the process while working towards achieving a positive outcome for your case.

Our team is available for you 24/7—contact us today at (612) 979-1305 to schedule your consultation.

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