Tag Archives: MN DWI

Drunk Driving Arrests Down in Minnesota

Fewer Minnesotans are getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol, according to a report from the Minnesota State Patrol.

The decline in DUI arrests has been rather stark as there have been 21 percent fewer arrests in 2014 than there was at this time last year. Police credit the drop in DUI arrests to more social awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving as well as the announcement of extra DUI patrols throughout the year. Police believe fewer people are taking the risk to drive drunk because they know more cops are out looking for offenders.

Despite the drop in arrests, DUI arrests are still happening far too often in Minnesota. 25,719 people were arrested for drunk driving in Minnesota in 2013, and we’re still expected to top 20,000 arrests by the end of the year. Police say this time of year is especially dangerous on the roads, as the holidays provide people with more opportunities to drive drunk.

Law enforcement said they arrested 578 individuals for driving drunk over the last two weekends. Similar numbers are expected through the end of the year as the State Patrol plan to continue adding extra DUI patrols as part of the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.

An App For That

App developers are also helping cut down on drinking and driving. A law enforcement agency in Maryland created the END DUI app, which allows a user to enter their height, weight, number of drinks and the time it took to consumer those drinks in order to estimate their blood-alcohol content.

The app is loaded with other features, including two mini games that test the user’s reaction time and cognitive ability. It also use GPS and Bluetooth technology to provide local phone numbers to cabs and other transportation options.

The app is available in the App Store and is free of charge.

Related source: Bring Me The News, WCCO

Minnesota Supreme Court Rejects DWI Necessity Defense

A while back, we wrote about the case of Jennifer Axelberg, the Minnesota woman who was arrested for driving under the influence while attempting to flee from her abusive husband. Axelberg later pleaded guilty to a lessor charge of careless driving , but she appealed the loss of her driver’s license under the Necessity Defense. In order to prove the Necessity Defense, a defendant must prove three things:

  • The defendant acted in such a manner to avoid a significant risk of harm; and
  • No reasonable lawful means could have been used to escape the harm; and
  • The harm avoided was greater than that caused by breaking the law.

Unfortunately for Axelberg, the appellate court rejected her appeal in a 2-1 decision. In the majority opinion, the judge wrote that Axelberg created a substantial risk to the general public by choosing to drive drunk.

Taking it to the Minnesota Supreme Court

Jennifer didn’t stop there, though. Knowing that the appellate court was divided on their ruling, Axelberg decided to appeal her case to the Minnesota Supreme Court, saying that she was “fighting for others who might get into this situation.” But for Axelberg, it was deja vu all over again, as a sharply divided group of justices ruled against her appeal in a 4-3 decision.

Justices on both sides issued strong opinions and spoke about the harmful precedence that would be set by the opposing opinion. Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea wrote in her 14-page majority opinion that Minnesota’s Implied Consent law doesn’t allow a person to use the Necessity Defense as an argument when it comes to challenging a license revocation.

Justice Alan Page, who disagreed with the majority opinion, said that the ruling is a slap in the face to individuals who have no other options when faced with physical or sexual assault.

“The decision implies that the necessity defense is unavailable not only in cases of domestic abuse, but also in cases in which a victim’s seeking refuge from a violent physical or sexual assault or kidnapping, and the court’s decision thus discourages those individuals from seeking shelter in a motor vehicle as well,” Page wrote.

Attorney Avery Appelman agreed with Justice Page.

“I think the majority opinion actually empathized with Jennifer, but they feared that applying the Necessity Defense would open up a theoretical ‘out’ for drunk drivers to claim they were fleeing an abuser,” said Appelman. “In actuality, Jennifer’s situation was so unique and the evidence against her abuser was so strong that very few future cases would meet the same circumstances. Jennifer should have had her license reinstated.”

Related source: Star-Tribune

Minnesota DWI: Know Your Rights

DWI StopThere are many Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to a Minnesota DWI stop. Outlined below are the best and worst practices for a Minnesota DWI stop. Follow these guidelines if you’re ever pulled over for drinking and driving in Minnesota.

What to Do:

Always keep your driver’s license and proof of insurance with you while driving, and have them out before the officer approaches your vehicle. This will prevent the officer from observing you fumble around in the glove compartment.

Insist on speaking with an attorney before answering any questions, taking any tests, or signing any documents.

You have the right to remain silent. You do not have to answer any of the officer’s questions regarding how much you’ve had to drink or where you’ve been. Provide the officer with the necessary identification information, and then shut up. Calmly tell the officer that you refuse to answer any questions.

Always obey the officer’s reasonable orders. Do not resist or talk back. Be courteous and calm. Cooperate with the arresting and booking processes.

What Not to Do:

Do not speak to anyone regarding the facts of your case before consulting with a criminal defense lawyer.

Do not submit to any Field Sobriety Tests. You are not legally obligated to take them. They only serve as further evidence for the officer to arrest you.

In addition, do not submit to a PBT (Portable Breath Test)—the hand-held breathalyzers that officers carry with them. These often give very inaccurate results, and you are not legally obligated to submit to them. Under the Minnesota Implied Consent Law, you are only required to submit to an approved breath, blood, or urine test—usually located at police stations. Ask the officer if the test is required by the Implied Consent Law. If the answer is no, do not take it.

In general, these are the two best rules of thumb if pulled over for a Minnesota DWI:

1. Keep your mouth shut

2. Insist on speaking with a Minnesota criminal defense attorney

Minnesota DWI: Consequences

MN DWIMinnesota has the third most DWIs per capita of any state in the country. All Minnesota drivers need to be aware of the consequences of drunk driving before they get behind the wheel. Consider these consequences before you consider drinking and driving.

Criminal Consequences:

Criminal consequences of a MN DWI charge include: bail and conditions of release from custody, jail time, probation, court-ordered chemical dependency evaluation, and random testing.

Jail time and fines vary based on the degree and circumstances of the DWI charge.

Probation is meant to help the DWI offender reintegrate into society as a law abiding citizen. While on probation, offenders are subject to random drug and alcohol testing. They are also often required to obtain a chemical dependency evaluation and psychological assessment. For MN DWIs, probation periods range from several months, to six years.

Chemical dependency evaluations are used to determine how dependent a person is on chemicals such as drugs or alcohol. These are very commonly required following a DWI charge. If a dependency is found, the DWI offender is usually required to seek treatment in the form of rehabilitation, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and other mandatory classes.

Civil Consequences:

Civil consequences of a MN DWI conviction include: driver’s license revocation, vehicle forfeiture, license plate impoundment, and increased insurance rates.

Driver’s license revocation is problematic for most people who rely on driving themselves to work every day, or driving their kids to school or daycare. Driver’s license revocation periods are determined by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Learn the specifics of Driver’s License Revocation.

In Minnesota, the state can seize a vehicle used in a MN DWI offense if they allege it was employed in connection with a second or first degree DWI. The forfeiture of the vehicle can happen without a judicial decree, unless the MN drunk driver takes action to prevent it by filing a judicial demand for forfeiture within 30 days of receiving the state’s notice.

A vehicle used in the course of various DWI offenses may have its license plates impounded. Impoundment happens at the time of the arrest if law enforcement revokes an eligible person’s driving privileges because the person failed or refused to give a blood alcohol concentration test.

Insurance rates are severely impacted by having a DWI offense on your record. When you receive a DWI charge, two notations enter your traffic records that are visible to insurance companies. When your insurance provider sees a DWI charge on your record they will either drop your coverage or offer you “risk insurance,” which is coverage with over inflated prices (usually around $2 – $10 thousand over the next 10 years).

18-year-old Baseball Prodigy, Delino Deshields, Arrested for DWI

Delino Deshields DWI18-year-old baseball rising star, Delino Deshields, was arrested last month in Athens, GA for Driving Under the Influence.

Police pulled Deshields over for driving the wrong way down a one way street. Deshields blew a BAC level of .094 and was issued a DUI as well as an underage possession of alcohol violation. The legal limit for those under the age of 21 is 0.02. Consequently, 18-year-old Deshields was way over the legal BAC limit. He was released on a $2,500 bond.

Deshields, the son of a former Major League Baseball player with the same name, was the Houston Astros’ number one draft pick last summer. This arrest puts a damper on the budding athlete’s status as a hot commodity.

“I take the responsibility of being a role model seriously and apologize to my fans, my community and the Astros organization, who continue to support my family and I during this unfortunate incident,” DeShields wrote in an apology on his Facebook page. “I look forward to putting this matter behind me and sincerely appreciate the respect of privacy during this personal matter.”

Under Minnesota law, the punishment for underage DWI is the same as it is for of age offenders. In addition, DWI violators under the legal drinking age are subject to a six month driver’s license revocation.

“Deshields makes a great point, that the collateral consequences of a DWI arrest can be disastrous,” says Criminal Defense Attorney, Avery Appelman. “Loss of educational and employment opportunities, family strife, and even the social stigma of a DWI arrest affect everybody regardless of fame or economic status.”

Related Sources:

Mankato Mayor Arrested for Drunk Driving

Mankato Mayor, John BradyThe Mayor of Mankato, John Brady, was arrested for drunk driving on Saturday, August 21 in Golden Valley, Minnesota.

Police responded to a hit and run call and when officers arrived at the scene, Brady was weaving in and out of his respective lane. He failed to yield to the officers’ emergency lights and hit a vehicle while exiting highway 394. Sobriety tests confirmed that the mayor was three times over the legal limit of 0.08 with a BAC of 0.24. He was also driving with an open bottle of vodka, and all of this occurred at 1:00 that afternoon.

He has been charged with fourth degree DWI, leaving the scene of an accident, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, and having an open container of alcohol in his vehicle while driving. Brady is set to appear in court in October 2010 and intends to run for re-election in the fall.

This is not Brady’s first DWI. In fact 18 years ago (almost to the day) he was convicted of drunk driving in Blue Earth County.

Police officers in Minnesota have recently been increasing their efforts to catch drunk drivers. The state’s enhanced enforcement campaign began August 20 and continued through Labor Day.

We briefly explored fourth degree DWI legal ramifications in our Joe Giudice blog post; however, drinking and driving has consequences outside of the legal system. For Brady, he runs the serious risk of not being re-elected for another term. While Brady is not prepared to resign, several City Council members have openly stated that they are preparing to ask for his resignation at the next regular council meeting. Re-election aside, he may be out of his job immediately due to this charge.

In a makeshift press conference held at Brady’s attorney’s office on Tuesday, August 31, Brady admitted to struggling with alcohol dependency on and off for the past 18 years. Recent personal tragedies led to his intermittent drinking and ultimate DWI arrest.

It’s interesting. Mankato has an extremely active anti-drinking campaign in Minnesota. With Mankato State, a widely regarded “party school” located within the city limits, the city has focused many of its efforts on educating high school and college-aged adults about the perils of drinking and driving. One would hope that their mayor would set a good example.

Related Sources:

Wadena Man Drives 178 MPH and Pleads Guilty to DWI and Careless Driving

Red CorvetteMichael James Johnson of Menahga, Minnesota was convicted Monday, August 30 of Fourth Degree DWI and Careless Driving, stemming from a July 9 incident when law enforcement officials pulled him over for driving 178 mph down a country road in Wadena County.

Forty-year-old Johnson was 1 of 26 drivers ticketed in July for driving over 100 mph during the state’s month-long effort to crack down on such high-speed infractions. Of all the 26 tickets, his was the fastest speed recorded.

To add insult to injury, Johnson’s blood alcohol content was 0.12 percent, while the legal limit for driving in Minnesota is 0.08. Originally he pled not guilty on August 3, but earlier this week, Johnson changed his plea to guilty on both counts—two misdemeanors. He was ordered to pay $615 in fines, serve two days in jail, and will spend the next two years on probation.

It is important for Minnesotans to fully grasp the severity of driving in excess of 100 mph. Such a violation can be charged as a misdemeanor with maximum penalties of a $1,000 fine and 90 days imprisonment. In addition to the criminal consequences, drivers will have their licenses revoked for at least six months.

Related Source:

Do You Have to Perform DWI Field Sobriety Tests in Minnesota?

If you are pulled over because a police officer believes that you are in violation of DWI law, you may be asked to perform a series of simple physical or cognitive tests to determine sobriety. Field Sobriety Test

Field sobriety tests provide officers probable cuase to arrest drivers on the suspicion of driving under the influence.  The standard field sobriety tests include the following:

  • One-legged stand
  • Walk and turn
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus (eye test)
  • Preliminary breath test (PBT)

In addition to the standard tests, officers may also administer other tests to gauge a driver’s sobriety:

  • Stand with feet together while tipping the head backward
  • Touch nose with index finger
  • Count the number of fingers raised by the officer
  • Recite the alphabet (or a portion of it)
  • Count backwards

Most drivers try to be cooperative and simply perform the tests requested by law enforcement; however, you are NOT legally required to take a field sobriety test.  Be aware though, failure to perform the field sobriety tests may be considered cause for the officer to arrest you.

Although it is not a crime to decline the field sobriety test, you are required to consent to a chemical test if arrested.   If an officer asks you to take a chemical test, it will be an analysis of your breath, blood, or urine.  Refusing to take the chemical test IS a crime in Minnesota.  You may be charged with a refusal if you do not submit to a breath test (different from a PBT) or if you refuse to take a blood AND urine test.  It is not a crime to refuse a blood or urine test–it is only illegal to refuse both.

Minnesota DWI’s are Enhanceable

A Minnesota DWI is an “enhanceable” offense, meaning certain factors can increase the charges of a Minnesota drunk driving offense.  Depending on which aggravating factors the driver is accused of, the level of severity of the offense will vary.  If the driver is accused of any of the following circumstances, the charges will increase:

  1. The individual’s blood alcohol content exceeds .20.
  2. A child under the age of 16 is in the motor vehicle at the time of the offense, and the child is more than 36 months younger than the offender.
  3. A prior impaired driving incident conviction or alcohol related driver’s license revocation that occurred in the ten years directly preceding the current DWI offense.

Any of these factors alone, or in combination, will result in you being charged with a higher “degree” of DWI.  According to the Minnesota DWI law, the appropriate level of violation (i.e. “degree’) is determined by the number of present aggravating factors.

Regardless of the degree of your Minnesota DWI charge, Appelman Law Firm has an experienced Minnesota DWI defense attorney for you to consult with now.  We have over 16 years of drunk driving defense experience.  Our skilled Minnesota criminal defense attorneys know that the criminal consequences of a Minnesota DWI are serious.  Let Appelman Law Firm experience help you through your’s.  Call Appelman Law Firm to speak with one of our veteran Minnesota DWI defense attorneys, and develop a strategy to achieve all of your legal objectives.  You may reach one of our criminal defense lawyers at 1-800-DIAL-DWI, anytime, day or night.