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DWI and DUI - Six Things You Need to Know

1. I've Been Arrested for DUI or DWI. Should I Plead Guilty and Get it Over With?

A DWI or DUI arrest is serious business. So whatever you do, do not plead guilty until you have reviewed your case with an attorney who specializes in DWI and DUI defense. From the moment you're arrested, your DWI or DUI arrest has many time-sensitive consequences that you must face immediately. If you're convicted, you could face substantial jail time, lose your driver's license and license plates and possibly even forfeit your vehicle. Plus, your insurance company will jack your rates sky high.

Make certain that the attorney you retain is not only a highly experienced criminal defense attorney, but one who also has handled hundreds of DWI and DUI cases. An attorney who specializes in DWI and DUI defense will best help you get the best possible outcome. Before retaining an attorney, do not:

Talk to any police investigators or insurance investigators who may question you.

Discuss the facts of your case to others, including friends and family. Anything you say to may be used against you later and you risk making that friend or family member a witness against you.

2. I Have to Go to Court for DWI/DUI. Should I Hire an Attorney First?

Yes, make every attempt to retain an attorney who specializes in DWI and DUI defense before going to court. If for some reason you must go to court without first hiring an attorney who specializes in DWI and DUI defense, ask the judge for a continuance so that you can hire one. Do not waive any hearings or consolidate any hearings. Ask the judge to continue the hearing you are having. Most judges will grant you a continuance to hire an attorney, but this might be your only continuance, so hire your attorney ASAP.
If you go to court without a lawyer, do not:

Make any statements about what did or did not happen during your case. Everything you say in court may be used against you later.

Speak to the prosecutor in an attempt to negotiate the case yourself. The prosecutor is working against you and is not going to help you. While no attorney can ever guarantee a particular result, they can mount legal defenses and constitutional challenges you simply would never think of or know how to apply.

Apply for a public defender if you cannot afford to hire an attorney who specializes in DWI or DUI defense.

3. How Much Will a DWI or DUI Defense Cost?

There are many factors that go into determining a fair fee for each individual case.

4. What is the difference between DWI or DUI?

DWI is a criminal offense which is also referred to as Driving under the Influence (DUI) or drunk driving. The term “drunk driving” is very misleading as one need not be either drunk or driving to be convicted. DWI stands for Driving While Impaired. Generally speaking, in order to be convicted of a DWI, a prosecutor must prove that the person was either driving, operating or in physical control of an automobile at a time when that person was either impaired by the use of alcohol and/or drugs, or at a time when that person had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more or tests revealed the presence of an illegal drug. A person who refuses a test to determine the presence of illegal drugs or to determine their alcohol concentration may be convicted of a DWI Refusal if the arresting officer had sufficient reason to request the test.

5. "Alcohol concentration" is defined by the statute as:

a. the number of grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood;

b. the number of grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath; or,

c. the number of grams of alcohol per 67 milliliters of urine.

Practically speaking, if you've been drinking, unless you are a physicist, an engineer, or a chemist, and have a calculator, you will be unable to determine if you have an alcohol concentration of .08 or more. Further, it is of interest to note that the amount of alcohol in each of the above statutorily defined concentrations is not equal, and can therefore result in a person being innocent according to one concentration but guilty according to another. Moreover, under the two statutory definitions of intoxication, it is also possible for a person to be innocent of being intoxicated because there is no loss of either normal mental or physical faculties but still be guilty of being intoxicated via .08.

6. What are the penalties for DWI?

There are four “degrees” of DWI, each with their own maximum penalty.

Fourth Degree DWI is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. A person may be placed on probation for up to two (2) years if convicted of this offense. A Fourth Degree DWI would be applicable where a person tests at between .08 and .19 and that person had not had a previous alcohol-related driving offense in the preceding ten (10) years.

Third Degree DWI is a gross misdemeanor offense punishable by up to one (1) year in jail and a $3,000 fine. A person may be convicted of this charge if they had: 1) refused the test, 2) tested with a blood alcohol concentration of .20 or more, 3) had a passenger under the age of 17 in the vehicle, or 4) have one prior DWI offense or alcohol-related revocation of their license in the preceding ten (10) years and test over .08 and less than .20.

Second Degree DWI is similar to Third Degree DWI except that it also calls for the forfeiture of the vehicle involved. A person may be convicted of this charge if they have any combination of two of the factors listed above for Third Degree DWI.

First Degree DWI is the most serious DWI offense. It is a felony offense punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $14,000 fine. A person sent to prison for First Degree DWI is also subject to a five-year conditional release (parole) period after they serve their sentence. In order to be convicted on First Degree DWI, a person must have three prior DWI offenses, or alcohol-related revocations of their license, in the preceding ten (10) years.

The information you obtain from this article is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

Submitted by:

Joseph Hawthorne

A Minneapolis Minnesota criminal defense lawyer or attorney at a local law firm can provide you with an experienced DWI DUI criminal defense attorney or lawyer in MN.




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