Minnesota Drunk Driving Attorneys & Lawyers
DWI laws are complex and carry serious criminal and driver’s license penalties. The criminal attorney who litigates your case must be experienced in all areas of DWI defense, procedures, and state laws. The Caplan Law Firm is comprised of DWI attorneys who know how to effectively litigate your DWI defense.
DWI Laws in Minnesota
In Minnesota, a person is guilty of a DWI if they drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, which means that the alcohol they consumed affected their ability or capacity to operate a vehicle. This standard also applies to DWIs involving marijuana use.
However, a person is presumed to be in violation of the DWI laws if they have any amount of certain controlled substances in their body. A person would be in violation of the DWI laws if they had any detectable amount of cocaine, crack, meth, opium, heroin, and many other street drugs in their body. The law does not require that the person actually be under the influence of the substance – only that the drug is in their body.
Minnesota law considers a person to be driving while impaired or driving while under the influence of alcohol when that person drove a vehicle with an alcohol concentration of .08 or more. It is illegal to drive with an alcohol concentration of .08 or more, or to have a .08 or more alcohol concentration within two hours of driving.
Drivers’ alcohol levels are measured in three ways. Breath tests (Intoxylizer), blood tests, and/or urine tests. Each testing procedure has different rules, standards, applications, and legal requirements for admissibility in court. A DWI lawyer must be conversant in all manners of testing. A DWI defense attorney must know the scientific and legal requirements attached to each testing procedure. At the Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, our DWI attorneys know how to legally analyze ALL testing procedures. Our DWI defense lawyers can expertly examine the testing methods and procedures in your case.
Testing at .20 or more
In Minnesota, if your alcohol test result is a .20 or greater you will be charged with a gross-misdemeanor crime even if you are a first time offender. The .20 or greater test is what is called an “aggravating factor” which increases the severity of the offense. A gross-misdemeanor is a much more serious charge that will normally carry executed jail time as a consequence. Additionally, a person’s driver’s license revocation time will be double the amount of the standard revocation time period for a .08 or more violation.
Defending cases involving a .20 or greater alcohol concentration requires a whole new set of legal expertise. A good DWI lawyer must know how to vigorously argue and attack a .20 or greater DWI charge.
Refusal to Test
Refusing to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test is an automatic gross-misdemeanor crime in Minnesota regardless of a person’s driving record. A person who refuses to test will also be facing a one year revocation of their driving privileges. If the driver has three prior DWI convictions or alcohol revocations within the past ten years, the present offense would be a felony DWI.
Winning a Refusal case is very difficult yet very necessary. Your DWI attorney must be proficient in Refusal law and be able to successfully litigate the charge.
Minnesota law proscribes different charges and penalties for DWIs on the basis of what’s legally termed as Aggravating Factors. An aggravating factor is one or more of a particular set of facts that may be present in a DWI charge. They include: number of prior convictions within the last 10 years, number of prior driver’s license alcohol revocations within the last 10 years, .20 or more alcohol concentration, having a child younger than 16 years of age in the car at the time of the DWI, and refusing to submit to chemical testing.
The basic rule of thumb is that the more aggravating factors you have, the more serious the charge and the greater likelihood that you’ll serve jail or prison time.
Different Degrees of DWIs
There are four (4) degrees of DWIs in Minnesota.
Fourth Degree DWI – this is the typical first offender DWI. It’s where a person, who has no aggravating factors present (such as prior offenses, .20 or greater test results, and/or children in the car), and tests between .08 and .19. Fourth Degree DWI carries a maximum penalty of up to 90 days in jail and/or $1,000.00 in fines. A person would also face a 90 day driver’s license revocation period.
Third Degree DWI – this is a gross-misdemeanor charge, carrying up to one year in jail and/or $3,000.00 in fines. This crime is charged when the person has one aggravating factor present. This charge commonly occurs in one of four ways:
1. the person has a .20 or greater alcohol concentration;
2. the person has one prior offense within the last ten years;
3. the person has a child in the car; or
4. the person refuses to submit to a test.
NOTE: A mandatory minimum 30 days in jail applies to any offender who has one prior DWI or one prior alcohol related driver’s license revocation.
A person will face a 180 day driver’s license revocation period if the charge involves the first 3 above scenarios. If a person refuses to test, however, their driver’s license will be revoked for a full year.
Second Degree DWI – this is also a gross-misdemeanor charge, carrying up to one year in jail and/or $3,000.00 in fines. This crime is charged when the person has two or more aggravating factors present. For example, a person who has two prior DWI convictions or alcohol related driver’s license revocations will be charged with Second Degree DWI.
NOTE: A mandatory minimum of 90 days in jail applies to any offender who has two prior DWIs or two prior alcohol related driver’s license revocations.
A person will face a one year driver’s license revocation period for a Second Degree DWI. The State may also forfeit the vehicle involved in the incident with a Second Degree DWI or a First Degree DWI.
First Degree DWI – this is a felony offense, carrying up to 7 years in prison and/or $14,000.00 in fines. This crime is charged when a person has three or more aggravating factors present. (Please see our “Felony DWI and CVO” portion of our website for more detailed information.)
The vehicle involved in this incident will be forfeited by the State. The mandatory minimum jail and prison times vary for this offense. The DWI attorneys at the Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm law firm will personally and professionally explain to you the significant aspects of sentencing issues concerning felony DWIs.
Implied Consent Hearings – Driver’s License Hearings
This is a special hearing that is completely separate from your criminal charges. It is a civil hearing that the driver must request within 30 days of receiving the DWI driver’s license revocation notice. Time is of the essence. Your attorney must request this hearing within the 30 day limit or else your right to a hearing is forever waived.
The implied consent hearing will often involve the same legal and factual issues that are relevant in the criminal charge. There are additional legal issues that are unique to the civil Implied Consent hearing. However, the ultimate goal in this hearing is to get your client’s driving privileges reinstated and/or have the alcohol revocation of your client’s license rescinded.
At the Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, we have litigated thousands of these hearings. We ensure that you will receive quality and forceful representation on the issues concerning your driver’s license. We know how important your driving privileges are to you, and we fight for your rights in retaining your driver’s license.
Source Code and the Intoxilyzer Test
This is the most contested issue in DWI and Implied Consent Law at the present time. The issue is very complex and involves a large amount of litigation time. In a nut shell, the issue concerns whether the computer program (a.k.a. “source code”) to the Intoxilyzer 5000 (the testing instrument used in Minnesota) is accurately reading alcohol levels in breath samples.
At the Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, we have litigated close to 100 DWI cases involving this issue over the last 18 months. Our DWI lawyers are extremely familiar with the current law concerning “Source Code” litigation. We can professionally assess your situation, and give you candid and helpful advice.
Your DWI Criminal Defense Attorney
DWI penalties are continually increasing and becoming more onerous for all drivers. It is rare that a Minnesota legislative session concludes without lawmakers enlarging the DWI penalty laws. The DWI defense attorneys at the Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm are fully educated on the most up-to-date laws and consequences for DWI violations. We have the talent and resources to fully defend your case. Call the Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm today to discuss your situation.
Our Minnesota DWI Defense Lawyers represent clients throughout Minnesota and Wisconin, including the Twin Cities areas of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Anoka, Andover, Apple Valley, Blaine, Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Burnsville, Coon Rapids, Chanhassen, Chaska, Columbia Heights, Eagan, Eden Prairie, Edina, Elk River, Hudson, Lakeville, Lino Lakes, Maple Grove, Maplewood, Minnetonka, Moundsview, Plymouth, Richfield, Roseville, White Bear Lake and Woodbury. We also represent clients in other parts of the state including Duluth, Rochester, Mankato, St. Cloud, Brainerd, Moorhead and beyond.
Serving statewide in Minnesota and Wisconsin, including Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Wright County, Sherburne County, Scott County and Carver County.
Contact the Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A. by calling 612-436-7040 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Minneapolis, St Paul, Twin Cities, Minnesota, DWI Lawyer.