Frequently Asked Questions About DWIs & DUIs in Minnesota
Am I being charged with two DWIs? Why do I have two charges?
In most cases, no. There are seven ways that the state can convict you of driving while impaired. The state can charge you with any number of separate counts in the complaint or citation. However, because there are different ways to prove the same crime, you can only be convicted of one. These different ways involve the state proving that you were operating or in physical control of a motor vehicle and:
- Under the influence of alcohol;
- Under the influence of a controlled substance;
- Knowingly under the influence of a hazardous substance that affects the nervous system, brain, or muscles that substantially impairs the ability to drive or operate the motor vehicle;
- Under the influence of a combination of any two or more of the three above-named options;
- Had an alcohol concentration of .08 or more as measured within two hours of driving;
- The vehicle was a commercial motor vehicle and you had an alcohol concentration of .04 or more as measured within two hours of driving; or
- Had in your body any amount of a Schedule I or II controlled substance, or its metabolite, other than marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols.
What happens to my driver’s license if I get a DWI?
It depends on a lot of factors. In most cases, your license will be revoked with blood, breath, or urine test results that indicate impairment. There is a strict deadline of 60 days to challenge the revocation of your license, so contact us today at 763-421-6366 for a free consultation with one of our criminal defense attorneys.
Do I have to put “whiskey plates” on my car?
It depends on the level of your DWI charges. You may have to put “whiskey plates” on your car if you want to drive and ignition interlock is required. “Whiskey plates” are special registration plates that are required when one’s plates have been impounded. These plates are white with black letters that start with the letter “w.” Your plates may be subject to impoundment for:
- A second violation within 10 years of DWI, test refusal, or test failure that results in revocation;
- Driving with a disqualified commercial driver’s license within 10 years of a prior qualified impaired driving incident;
- A DWI with an alcohol concentration of twice the legal limit or more;
- A DWI with a child under 16 in the vehicle, if the child is more than 36 months younger than the driver; or
- Driving after being cancelled inimical to public safety.
There is a deadline of 30 days from a notice of impoundment in which to request judicial review of impoundment. Call us at 763-421-6366 if you have any questions about license plate impoundment
Can I get a work permit?
Under some circumstances, you may apply for a limited license (or “work permit”) after being charged with DWI. There are more, but some examples include:
- Your alcohol concentration was less than .16, and no qualified priors;
- You have two or more priors within the last 10 years, or three or more total priors, but also have ignition interlock installed in your vehicle;
- You are under 21, have no priors, and your alcohol concentration was less than .16.
Limited licenses are only issued for certain purposes, which include:
- Attending chemical dependency treatment or counseling;
- Homemaking, for the educational, medical, or nutritional needs of the family; or
- Postsecondary education.
In order to get a limited license, you’ll need to:
- Take the written DWI test on chapters seven and eight of the Minnesota Driver’s Manual;
- Pay the reinstatement fee and apply for a new license; and
- Meet with an evaluator to discuss your driving needs.
If you’re having trouble getting a limited license or have additional questions, please contact one of our attorneys at 763-421-6366.
The officers didn't read me my Miranda rights. Can I get this case thrown out?
Probably not your entire case, but it is possible to have some evidence not be admitted at trial. A Miranda warning is a common line you may have heard on Law & Order: “you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you…” Its requirement derives from the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, which provides that “no person … shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” An officer is required to recite a Miranda warning when a suspect is both in custody and subject to interrogation by officers. A person is considered “in custody” when under formal arrest or when a reasonable person, under the totality of the circumstances, would not feel free to terminate the encounter with officers. “Interrogation” involves direct questioning about involvement in a crime or words or acts by officers that are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response.
If you were in police custody, interrogated, and not read your Miranda rights, then any subsequent statements you made should be excluded from your case. However, other evidence in your case may be admissible.
If you have any questions about your Miranda rights, contact an attorney at Brandt Criminal Defense at 763-421-6366 for a free consultation.
The officer never showed me what I blew on the preliminary breath test. Can I get this case thrown out?
No, not on this basis alone. An officer administering a preliminary breath test is under no statutory obligation to share the exact results of the preliminary test to the test-taker.
Will others find out if I get a DWI? Do I have to tell anyone about it?
It all depends on your unique circumstances. Contact one of our attorneys at 763-421-6366 for a free consultation regarding your situation and how we can help.
I already took one breath test (PBT), why did I have to take another?
The results of the portable preliminary breath test are not admissible as evidence in court, in part because of reliability issues. So if you failed the PBT, the officer can ask you to submit to an additional chemical test, through blood, breath, or urine, that is more reliable. If you refuse the additional test, you may be charged with another criminal count of test refusal, which is a gross misdemeanor if you don’t have priors.
If you have any questions regarding DWI testing by officers, contact a lawyer at Brandt Criminal Defense for a free consultation.
Why was I only offered a breath test, and not a blood or urine test?
If an officer offers a breath test, then he or she is not required to offer blood or urine tests. If you decline the breath test, then you could be charged with test refusal. Furthermore, after giving a breath test, an officer may require an additional blood or urine test if there is probable cause to believe you have drugs in your system not detectable by a breath test. If you have questions about your test, call us at 763-421-6366 for a free consultation.
I couldn't call my lawyer, so can I get my case thrown out?
Maybe, but not necessarily. After submitting to a PBT and being detained for a DWI, the officer may ask that you take a chemical test involving blood, breath, or urine. Refusing this test carries criminal consequences in Minnesota. The officer is supposed to recite an “implied consent advisory” to you before you choose whether to take the test or refuse the test and face additional criminal penalties. This advisory informs people that they have the right to consult with an attorney, but that they cannot unreasonably delay the test. This right is fulfilled when one is provided access to a telephone and a reasonable amount of time to reach and consult with an attorney before testing. The person must make a good-faith effort to contact an attorney.
If you feel your right to an attorney was not honored or if you have any questions about your DWI charges, please give us a call at 763-421-6366 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys.
The police pulled me over for speeding, but I never got a speeding ticket. Does that invalidate the initial stop and can I get my case thrown out?
No, unless you were not actually speeding. An officer needs to have a valid reason to pull you over in the first place. Any traffic violation observed by an officer justifies a traffic stop. But for the officer to expand the scope of the traffic stop, he or she would need reasonable suspicion of other, additional criminal activity. For example, if the officer detects the odor of alcohol on a driver pulled over for a traffic violation, the officer may investigate the driver’s impairment and administer field sobriety tests and a preliminary breath test.
If you have questions or concerns about the circumstances surrounding your DWI stop, call us today to arrange a free consultation with one of our criminal defense lawyers.
I did fine on the eye test. How can they say I failed?
The “eye test” is the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, which is a part of standard field sobriety tests, most often administered on the side of the road after someone is suspected of driving while impaired. Nystagmus is the uncontrolled bouncing or jerking of the eyes, which can be caused when alcohol or drug consumption hinders the brain’s ability to control the eye muscles. The more someone is impaired, there will be more bouncing or jerking of the eyes.
When an officer is administering the HGN test, he or she is looking for this bouncing or jerking, and not whether your eyes are properly following the target, which may be an officer’s pen or finger. You may feel that you nailed this test, but it’s difficult to be aware of this involuntary eye bouncing or jerking.
It’s important to keep in mind that this is just one subjective test used by the officer to determine impairment, and must be considered with other factors in order to justify DWI charges and additional chemical testing. There are ways to cross examine officers testifying in court about these tests.
Contact one of our knowledgeable attorneys today at 763-421-6366 for a free consultation regarding your DWI charges.