What happens when someone is arrested for a first-time DWI/DUI in Minnesota?

 In Law Articles

The process following a first-time DWI/DUI arrest can vary depending on the circumstances of each individual case.  Likewise, the penalties for a first-time DWI/DUI also depend on the specific circumstances of each case.  If someone’s been arrested for DWI/DUI, they should consult with a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.

In Minnesota there are four degrees of DWI/DUI: First, Second, Third and Fourth Degree DWI/DUI. First Degree is a felony, Second and Third Degrees are gross misdemeanors, and Fourth Degree is a misdemeanor. A first-time DWI/DUI is a Fourth Degree unless (1) the arrested person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.16 or over, (2) there was a child present in the vehicle who is 16 years of age or younger, or (3) the arrested person refuses a breath test.

What happens following arrest for first-time DWI/DUI?

Typically, once a police officer has developed probable cause to arrest someone for DWI/DUI, the arrested person will be transported to a nearby police station or the county jail/detention center, where they will be subjected to additional chemical testing. If their BAC is twice the legal limit (0.16 or higher) the arrested person will be held in custody until a judge sets release conditions.  If the arrested person’s BAC is under 0.16 and the arresting officer determines that further detention is not justified, the arrested person must be immediately released.

An arrested person who is not released must be brought before the nearest available judge of the county where the arrest occurred. The arrested person must be brought before a judge without unnecessary delay, and not more than 36 hours after the arrest, excluding the day of arrest, Sundays, and legal holidays. In misdemeanor cases, an arrested person who is not brought before a judge within the 36-hour limit must be released.

What are the penalties for a first-time DWI/DUI?

A DWI/DUI arrest can result in administrative and criminal penalties.

Administrative penalties involve loss of the arrested person’s driver’s license and may vary depending on the circumstances of each case.  Typically, the State will seek to revoke the arrested person’s driver’s license for 90 days if arrested for a misdemeanor Fourth Degree DWI/DUI.  If the arrested person refuses or fails a chemical test, the arresting officer will notify the Commissioner of Public Safety to revoke their driver’s license.

The criminal penalties for Fourth Degree DWI/DUI include up to 90 days in county jail and a $1000 fine.  A person convicted of Second or Third Degree DWI/DUI faces up to 365 days in jail and a $3000 fine. In Minnesota, a criminal conviction for DWI/DUI can result in incarceration, supervised probation, fines, chemical dependency treatment, and an abstention order – meaning no alcohol consumption while on probation – while being subjected to random alcohol testing.

Are there legal defenses for a first-time DWI/DUI in Minnesota?

Yes!  There are a number of defenses or challenges that can be raise in court to fight a DWI/DUI arrest.  The arrested person can challenge the basis for the traffic stop.  If the arresting officer did not have reasonable articulable suspicion to make a traffic stop, any incriminating evidence may be inadmissible in court. Did the officer lawfully expand the scope of the traffic stop by investigating the DWI/DUI? Did the officer properly advise the arrested person of their right to speak with an attorney before chemical testing? Did the officer properly administer the chemical test? Is the chemical test accurate?  If the arresting officer violated the arrested person’s constitutional rights in any way during the course of the investigation, the evidence may be deemed inadmissible and the charges could be dismissed.

Additionally, if someone is arrested for DWI/DUI in Hennepin County, they may be able to get their driver’s license reinstated while the criminal case is pending.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a DWI/DUI, call Attorney Luke Neuville for a free consultation to discuss the specific details of the case.





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