A PBT stands for Preliminary Breath Test in DWI cases. Some people call it a portable breath test. Minnesota statutes refer to it as a preliminary screening test. However you slice it, it means the same thing. It is a handheld device that cops use as part of their field sobriety testing in DWIs. In Minnesota, the officer must have sufficient cause to use a PBT during field sobriety testing. Meaning, they cannot just jump to it right away without any just cause.
In State v. Juncewski, the Minnesota Supreme Court reasoned that reasonable articulable suspicion of a DWI is needed to request a PBT. PBTs are the only field sobriety tests where the legislature states a specific standard for invoking the test. The legislature seemed to recognize that requesting a PBT is more intrusive than other field sobriety tests, such as the one-leg-stand test, the walk-and-turn test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test. Often, officers will ask someone to take a PBT after they put the driver through the other field sobriety tests. Thus, building reasonable articulable suspicion to get to the PBT.
Importantly, the PBT is not a test that prosecutors can use to charge someone with a DWI in court. That is the evidentiary test taken at the police station or local jail in breath test cases. Evidentiary urine tests are rarely requested in DWI cases anymore, but when they are, they can take those at the police department. For evidentiary blood test cases, those are sometimes administered at a hospital. In urine and blood test cases, officers will seek a warrant first.
In breath test cases, after an officer asks someone to take a PBT, depending on the results of the test, the cop will arrest the driver on suspicion of DWI. The officer will then ask the driver to take a second breath test at the police department or local jail. Drivers can often be confused about the second request for a breath test and not understand why they are being asked to take another one. The crucial point is that the test at the station is the evidentiary test. That is the one that prosecutors can use to charge someone with testing .08 or more.
Results from a PBT are only admissible in court in limited circumstances. One circumstance is in DWI Refusal cases. In those matters, the prosecutor can submit evidence of the PBT result to build probable cause for the arrest of DWI and the request to take an evidentiary test. In pre-trial litigation, the prosecution may also use the results of the PBT if your attorney challenges probable cause for arrest. But, if you end up in a criminal trial by judge or jury, then your defense lawyer should be making sure that the results of the PBT are not admitted as evidence in a DWI trial for testing .08 or more. A main issue is that PBTs are not scientifically reliable tests. While officers may have them calibrated and up to speed on servicing, the science behind them are not good enough to support charges in court for testing at or above the legal limit.
PBTs are also often used in minor consumption cases, underage drink and drive matters, and juvenile court proceedings. The tests can also be used in some civil actions and license reinstatement matters. In underage drink and drive cases, the prosecution will argue that any positive result on a PBT violates the law. The penalties can include a license suspension for thirty days on a first-time offense and one hundred and eighty days for a second offense.
The One-Leg Stand Test is a field sobriety test used by officers during an investigation for suspicion of driving while impaired (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI). If you are pulled over, and an officer asks you to step out of the vehicle, they may put you through field sobriety testing. These commonly include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test, Walk-and-Turn Test, and One-Leg Stand Test. Depending on the results of those, which the officer almost always says you failed, they will likely ask you to submit to a preliminary breath test (PBT) as the final field sobriety test before determining whether to arrest you on suspicion of DWI. In cases where the officer suspects a person of driving under the influence of drugs, they will often do the HGN, possibly the other coordination tests, but they will also often conduct other testing for drug recognition, such as taking a person’s pulse.
In the One-Leg Stand Test, before the test begins, the police officer should ask the driver before if they have any problems affecting their balance. This would be the time to tell the officer about your old knee injury from high school football that makes it hard to balance. If the officer decides to move forward with testing, they will then tell the driver to raise one leg off the ground about six inches, hold their arms at their side, and count one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, and so forth until the officer tells them to stop.
Officers are trained to look for different “clues” during this test. Those are: swaying, using arms for balance, putting their foot down or hopping, etc. The officer only needs to witness two clues for them to consider the driver to have failed the test.
For the most reliable (if that is even possible) one-leg stand test, it should be done on a level, flat, reasonably dry, and non-slippery surface. Certain factors can affect the results of the test. If the person is sixty-five years old or older, they are more than fifty pounds overweight, they have balance issues, leg, back, knee, or foot problems. Also, the footwear of the driver can affect the test. If a person is wearing a heel over two inches or higher, flip-flops, or platform shoes the officer should give the driver the opportunity to perform the test barefoot rather than in their footwear. External factors, such as the wind, rain, snow, and cars passing by also affect the performance of the test.
While officers may show a driver how the test should be completed, they often do not tell the drivers the secret of the test. Officers will often lean back while they hold their leg in the air during the one-leg stand test. This allows them to keep their balance more easily than if they are standing straight up. However, they do not tell drivers this little secret, which results commonly in the driver trying to complete the test while standing straight up, which makes it more difficult to complete.
The one-leg stand test is one of the common field sobriety tests used by MN law enforcement officers. Often, we recommend a person should refuse to take the coordination tests, such as the one-leg stand test and walk-and-turn test. We also recommend refusing to participate in the HGN test. These tests are often skewed in the favor of law enforcement, which will give the prosecution more arguments to make against you in your case. If you think you are close to the legal limit, then you can ask the officer to take the PBT. If that PBT gives a reading well under .08, then the officer may allow you to drive away or have a person who is completely sober come pick you up. The most important test to consider whether you should refuse or not is the evidentiary breath, blood, or urine test which is often conducted at the police department, jail, or hospital. Before deciding to take an evidentiary breath test, the officer should give you an opportunity to consult with a Minneapolis DWI lawyer. Take that opportunity. We, and many other respected firms, offer consultations at no charge.
Anyone who has watched enough police procedural shows knows that reading the suspect his or her Miranda rights is a crucial part of any arrest. In spite of the fact that these warnings are frequently portrayed as essential to the arrest, with the lack of proper notice frequently being cited as a basis for overturning criminal charges, the reality is far less clear.
Miranda Rights refers to the warnings given by officers to detained suspects who are about to be questioned. Unfortunately, this is not the case, especially when it comes to DWI stops in Minnesota, despite the widespread belief that any arrest in which an officer fails to read these warnings will ultimately be thrown out. The only time Miranda warnings are required is when an individual is in custody and being questioned by a law enforcement official. The two requirements for a Miranda warning are (1) being arrested and (2) being interrogated in custody. For instance, if a person has been arrested and is being transported to a nearby police station for further questioning, he or she must be advised of his or her Miranda rights. If the officer fails to do so, the information obtained during the interrogation will not be admissible in a subsequent trial.
The problem is that in the majority of Minnesota drunk driving cases, Miranda warnings are unnecessary. The majority of drunk driving cases do not require a detention interrogation. Officers may question suspected drunk drivers, but no warning is required if these questions occur outside of police custody. Upon arrest, a simple blood alcohol test can be administered, typically without the need for lengthy questioning sessions. However, there is one scenario in which Miranda warnings would be required during an arrest for drunk driving.
For example, if a driver was arrested on suspicion of DUI, placed under arrest, and transported to the police station for a breath test, that driver is now clearly in police custody, which is the first requirement for invoking Miranda rights. Before continuing with the interrogation, the Miranda Rights must be explained and waived if the officer decides to question the individual, perhaps about the amount of alcohol consumed that evening.
If a police officer fails to inform a suspect of his or her Miranda rights, it is crucial to understand that the suspect’s case will not necessarily be dismissed. Instead, the results of this unlawful interrogation will not be admissible in the eventual criminal prosecution.
Must the police read the rights during a DUI traffic stop and investigation?
Officers are not required to read Miranda warnings during a DUI investigation. A DUI investigation encompasses everything that transpires between a driver’s stop and arrest. This could happen after a traffic stop or at a DUI sobriety checkpoint. Currently, a driver is not “in custody.” Therefore, the officer is not required to read Miranda before interrogating the suspect.
What transpires during a DWI investigation?
During a DWI investigation, a police officer may take one or more of the following steps:
• Request that the driver perform one or more “field sobriety tests” (“FSTs”); • Request that the driver submit to a cheek swab for DUI of marijuana or driving under the influence of drugs (in some jurisdictions); and/or
• Inquire if the driver demonstrates signs of impairment, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, dilated or “pinprick” pupils, or confusion.
Typical questions posed by a police officer include:
• Where are you coming from?
• Were you drinking?
• Have you consumed any prescription or illegal drugs today or last night?
Other evidence of driving under the influence is admissible. Drivers must also keep in mind that statements are not the only indication of driving under the influence. Even if Miranda rights have been violated, the prosecutor may still present additional drunk driving evidence.
Such evidence may include: • Any traffic violations committed by the driver; • Observable signs of physical and mental impairment (such as a flushed face, the smell of alcohol, etc.); • The presence of alcohol and/or drugs or drug paraphernalia in the vehicle; • The driver’s performance on field sobriety tests; • The driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) as determined by a DUI blood test or DUI breath test; • Traffic cam video footage and/or still photography
After being stopped on suspicion of DWI, those suspected of gross misdemeanor or felony DWI may be detained and transported directly to jail. The time spent in jail is pending an appearance in court. Unfortunately, a person arrested without a warrant may spend four or more days in jail before appearing in court, which can cause a number of difficulties with work, family, and other responsibilities.
At Ambrose Law, we strive to get you back to your life as quickly as possible. This means releasing you from jail while the criminal proceeding against you continues. By releasing you from jail, you can return to work, school, and your family until you must return to court to face the charges against you.
If you have been charged with DWI, it is essential that you mount a vigorous defense. By having a skilled St. Paul & Minneapolis DWI attorney by your side every step of the way, you can get out of jail faster and achieve a favorable outcome in your case. Even if you were driving under the influence of alcohol, there may be circumstances that prevent you from paying the maximum penalties.
People suspected of gross misdemeanor or felony DWI offenses are frequently detained in jail until their court appearance. A person arrested without a warrant may spend at least four days in jail before appearing in court to discuss conditions of release. Under the circumstances, Ambrose Law can help get your friend or family member out of jail as soon as possible.
In a typical DWI case involving an arrest without a warrant, the prosecution and courts must adhere to two rules. First, the court must determine probable cause to detain the defendant within 48 hours of the arrest.
The judicial determination should also establish bail or release conditions, although some defendants will continue to be detained without bail. If the court fails to determine probable cause within 48 hours of the defendant’s arrest, the jail must unconditionally release the defendant.
Second, if probable cause is determined by a judge within 48 hours of an arrest, the defendant must still appear in court within 36 hours. The 36-hour rule, however, does not include the day of arrest, Sundays, or holidays.
If Monday is not a holiday, a person arrested at 2:00 a.m. on Saturday must appear in court by 12:00 p.m. the following Tuesday. Occasionally bail is required, and occasionally it is not.
When it is required, bail is called “mandatory bail.”
The mandatory bail for a first-time offender with a BAC of 0.20 or higher or who had a minor in the vehicle at the time of the offense is $12,000. A person committing their third offense within ten years is also subject to the $12,000 bail requirement. The court typically sets bail as a monetary amount that the defendant must pay in order to return home pending the next court hearing. If you appear as required, your bail is released at the conclusion of your case. If you fail to appear in court, your bail is forfeited and given to the court.
The bail hearing, which takes place in court, is where the judge determines the amount of bail.
A judge may require bail if he or she believes that you pose a threat to the public or are unlikely to appear in court when required. The judge may consider your ties to the community, your involvement in the community, your family members who are in court with you, the duration and nature of your employment, and your prior criminal record.
Taking Care of the Bail Process
A bail bondsman can be quite useful because the majority of defendants lack the funds to pay their bail. In exchange for a fee, the bail bondsman puts up the cash. The fee is a percentage of the bail amount and is occasionally secured by a lien. This ensures that the bail bondsman will be compensated if the defendant fails to appear at future court dates. Your Minneapolis and St. Paul DWI attorney will assist you in selecting a reputable bail bondsman to ensure you receive the best deal. Your attorney will take into account factors that are important to you, such as whether collateral is required and how quickly bail can be posted. Thus, you can return home as quickly as possible.
Helping You Get Out of Jail Fast
Your DWI attorney in Minneapolis will help you get out of jail quickly so you can resume your life. Occasionally, however, electronic alcohol monitoring may be necessary, or you may be required to wear a monitoring bracelet as a condition of your release. In the end, if you are charged with DWI in the first or second degree, you must post bail.
You and your attorney will determine the optimal combination of release conditions, given that conditions can affect bail amount.
Even for first-time offenders, a conviction for driving while impaired (DWI) in Minnesota carries severe consequences. Even if a person convicted of DWI avoids jail time, they may still be haunted by other consequences. There is no definitive answer to the question, “What is the punishment for a first DWI in Minnesota?”
In Minnesota, not all first-offense DWIs will be treated equally.m There are aggravating circumstances that can significantly raise the stakes in a DWI trial. If you have been arrested for DWI in Minnesota, you must seek legal representation immediately. Your attorney may have a significant impact on the outcome of your case. Schedule a free consultation with a Minneapolis DWI defense attorney from Ambrose Law as soon as possible to discuss your defense options.
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a crime that puts a great deal at risk. From short-term setbacks to long-term repercussions, defendants face a variety of penalties and negative consequences. Depending on the charge, these penalties can have life-altering effects in some instances. If you or a loved one has been charged with DWI, it is crucial that you understand the importance of working with experienced defense attorneys, such as those from Ambrose Law.
Over the years, our legal team has successfully defended clients accused of DWI under a wide range of circumstances, including some of the most severe charges our criminal justice system has to offer. There is simply no substitute for working with a seasoned team of attorneys when you stand accused.
Recognizing the Penalties
DWI is a criminal offense that may result in both criminal court punishment and administrative penalties from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
Additionally, there are varying degrees of DWI:
- Misdemeanor of the fourth degree – Typically charged against first-time DWI offenders with no aggravating circumstances.
- Misdemeanor of the third degree – May be charged against a first-time offender when there is an aggravating factor or when a breathalyzer or chemical test is refused.
- Second-degree gross misdemeanor – First-time offenders may be charged with this offense when two aggravating circumstances are present and/or when a chemical test is refused.
- First-degree felony – As the most serious charge, felony DWIs are prosecuted against drivers with three or more prior DWI convictions.
In the absence of prior convictions, a first-time offender may be charged with a felony for causing an accident resulting in bodily injury or death.
First-time DWI offenders typically face the following penalties:
- Driving privilege revocation
- License or vehicle confiscation
- Up to $3,000 in fines
- Up to 90 days in jail (misdemeanor)
- Up to a year in jail (gross misdemeanor)
- Probation • Community Service • Mandatory Coursework
In addition to these penalties, there are a number of collateral consequences, including employment issues, financial expenses, and driving-related difficulties.
As with any criminal charge, the criminal penalties for DWI will vary greatly depending on the specific facts and circumstances involved. While prior convictions are a well-known factor for increased penalties in DWI cases, other factors can expose defendants to additional penalties, harsher sentences, additional charges, and even felony accusations.
- Driving with a minor passenger
- Involvement in an accident
- Accidents resulting in injury or death
- Driving with an open container
- High BAC levels
- Driving with a suspended license
- Refusing a breathalyzer or blood test
Even if you are arrested and charged with DWI for the first time, the penalties can vary significantly depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest. While some factors, such as driving with an open container or a higher BAC, may expose defendants to a moderate increase in penalties, others may result in felony charges and the possibility of lengthy prison terms. This is particularly true in situations involving accidents, hit-and-runs, injuries, and deaths. However, because each case is unique, it is best to work with an attorney like Ambrose Law Firm who can explain how aggravating circumstances affect your case.
If you have been arrested or convicted for driving under the influence (DWI) in Minnesota, you are already aware of the severe penalties associated with these charges. In addition to possible jail time and fines, a DWI can result in the loss of driving privileges within the state. Loss of driving privileges can have negative consequences for your personal life, career, and education. Thankfully, the state provides options for regaining your license after a suspension. With the aid of a Minneapolis DWI Defense Attorney, there may also be options for driving while your privileges are still suspended. After being arrested for DWI, you should always seek the counsel of an attorney. In addition to guiding you through these obstacles, your legal counsel could also help you defeat the charges against you. Contact the attorneys at Ambrose Law today for more information.
Minnesota Requirements for Obtaining Your License Back
The requirements for regaining a suspended license following a DUI conviction are straightforward. Either immediately or once the revocation period has expired, the first step is to submit an application for a new license. This also requires payment of the application fee. Due to the revocation of your license, you must also pay a reinstatement fee. You will be unable to acquire a new license until you provide proof of payment. The reinstatement fee is currently $680. It is possible that the state will require additional steps or documentation for you to obtain a driver’s license. You may be surprised to discover that the process of regaining your license can begin immediately. Many individuals do not begin the process of regaining their driver’s license until the period of suspension has expired. This is an error. You are able to initiate this procedure immediately, allowing you to drive as soon as your license suspension period begins following your arrest.
You can begin the process of applying for a new license as soon as state records indicate that your license will be revoked. This includes the payment of the reinstatement fee and the completion of the application. In fact, you can also install an ignition interlock device without waiting for the state’s approval. Of course, these devices are typically billed on a monthly basis, so installing the interlock early may not be the best decision. You may also qualify for a restricted license, also known as a work permit. Your case and circumstances will determine which option(s) you can utilize.
What Became of the DWI Knowledge Exam?
An examination known as the DWI knowledge test has been one of the most aggravating requirements for obtaining a license for years. Even if you have completed your suspension period and met all other requirements, the state will not reinstate your license until you pass this exam. This test of knowledge was a multiple-choice examination that covered many fundamental driving concepts. The majority of the questions on this exam were drawn from Chapters 7 and 8 of the Minnesota Driver’s Manual. The exam could be taken in numerous locations across the state, including DMV offices. The state would not allow you to obtain your license until you passed. Fortunately, the state has eliminated this requirement. In 2021, drivers convicted of DWI will no longer be required to pass this exam before receiving their license back. There was scant evidence that these tests improved driver safety or had any effect other than making driving in Minnesota more difficult.
Can I Drive in Minnesota before My Suspension Period Ends?
For some individuals, it is possible to recover limited driving privileges even if their suspension period has not yet expired. First, the ignition interlock previously discussed may be an option. A limited license is an option for some drivers who do not qualify for a full license. The restricted license is also referred to as a work permit. Not everyone is eligible to obtain a work permit. Your eligibility for this program will be determined by a variety of factors, beginning with your BAC at the time of your arrest. If you had a high blood alcohol concentration, you may not be eligible. Also relevant are your prior criminal record and whether or not you submitted to a breath test. If you are granted a restricted license, you are only permitted to operate your vehicle under specific conditions. These licenses allow the majority of individuals to drive to and from work, alcohol or chemical dependency treatment programs, and educational institutions.
Homemakers are subject to slightly different restrictions than those who work or attend school full-time. Some housewives can obtain a limited license that allows them to drive to acquire food, medical care, or other family necessities. These restricted licenses typically permit parents to transport their children to school. Even if you qualify for a restricted license, you may not be immediately eligible. Typically, there is a waiting period that must expire before these licenses become available. For first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration below 0.16, as well as first-time drivers charged with Chemical Test Refusal, the waiting period is typically 15 days after the start of the revocation period.
In Minnesota, Ignition Interlock Devices May Be Required.
In some instances, regaining driving privileges necessitates installing an ignition interlock device. These devices require you to blow into a tube attached to your vehicle’s steering column each time you enter the driver’s seat. The device measures your blood alcohol concentration when you do so. If any alcohol is detected on your breath, your vehicle will not start. Additionally, you could be required to provide additional breath samples while driving to ensure you are not drinking and driving. These are known as rolling exams.
To regain driving privileges, an ignition interlock device must be installed in two situations. The first category includes those arrested for DWI with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.16 or higher. In addition, repeat offenders must install an interlock device if they wish to drive during the duration of their respective license suspensions. There are additional requirements that must be met in order to qualify for an ignition interlock device. If you do not meet these requirements, it may be impossible for you to obtain a limited driver’s license.
These requirements include:
- submitting a completed license application;
- paying your reinstatement fee; and
- signing and submitting your Minnesota Ignition Interlock Program Participation Agreement.
- Install the ignition interlock device in your vehicle and send the DPS proof of installation.
You are permitted to install the ignition interlock device at any time, as long as the installation is performed by an authorized party. While the state will issue you a driving permit letter, you can install the device in advance. Obviously, it is essential to remember that even with the device installed, you are not permitted to drive without state authorization.
The time required to use the interlock device can vary. Typically, it will depend on the length of your revocation period. When you receive your state-issued approval letter, it will specify how long you must rely on this device to operate a motor vehicle. It is also possible that the interlock device will be required for a longer period of time. If you violate any of the terms of your limited license, you may be required to keep the device installed for a longer period of time.
There is a fee for using ignition interlock devices. Costs associated with installing this device in your vehicle are your responsibility. There is an installation fee of $100 or more to initiate service. In addition, each of the approved interlock companies will charge a monthly lease fee.
Contact a DUI Defense Lawyer in Minneapolis Regarding Your DWI Arrest
Dealing with the repercussions of a DUI can be aggravating. The good news is that it may not even be necessary to experience these consequences. If you successfully challenge the prosecution with the assistance of a Minneapolis DUI defense attorney and win your DWI case, you may be exonerated. Ambrose Law’s attorneys have a strong track record of winning these cases. Now is the time to contact us if you are ready for us to put our experience to work for you. Quickly schedule a free consultation with the attorneys of Ambrose Law.
According to Minnesota Statute 169A.63, when a vehicle is used to commit a crime, including driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenses, it can be forfeited. This means that the arresting agency has the authority to seize and forfeit the vehicle in certain DWI cases. If the owner does not recover the vehicle, the agency may sell it and keep the proceeds. If your vehicle has been seized by the police, you should contact a DWI defense attorney in Minneapolis to learn more about your options.
Here are five reasons why you should contact us immediately following a DWI arrest:
- We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week;
- Both of our partners have experience as former prosecutors;
- We have handled hundreds of jury trials throughout the state;
- Our lead attorney is a board-certified criminal law specialist;
- We will begin your case with a completely free, no-obligation consultation.
DWI Offenses That Can Result in Vehicle Forfeiture
Your vehicle may be seized in Minnesota if you commit any of the following violations:
- You have been charged with your fourth DWI offense in the past decade (which is a felony).
- You have been charged with a third DWI or test refusal in the past decade.
- You are charged with a second DWI offense within ten years and: o A child under the age of 16 was in the vehicle; or o You had a BAC of 0.20 percent or higher.
- You have been charged with DWI or test refusal while your license is in the process of being revoked.
- You are charged with DWI while your license is restricted by a B-Card.
You Have Only 30 Days to Request an Audience
After a Minnesota law enforcement agency has seized your vehicle, you will receive an administrative notice of vehicle forfeiture, also known as a “Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit Vehicle.” You will have only 30 days to file a demand for a judicial determination of the forfeiture, which is a hearing to determine the legality of a vehicle seizure and forfeiture.
You should also be aware that your vehicle can only be kept and sold if you are convicted of the DWI offense for which you were arrested or if your license is revoked pursuant to the state’s implied consent law. If you successfully defend yourself against the DWI charge and license revocation, you can avoid having your vehicle repossessed. It is essential that you retain an experienced DUI defense attorney.
We’re Available 24/7 –Contact Our Minneapolis DWI Lawyers
If your vehicle was seized following a DWI arrest in Minneapolis, you must immediately contact a DWI attorney at Ambrose Law. You have a very brief window of opportunity to contest the forfeiture, so prompt action is vital. Give us a call today to learn more about how we can assist you. If your vehicle has been seized, you must act immediately! Call our company anytime for a free consultation.
At the end of the day, there is no other criminal offense comparable to a DWI in which people from all walks of life face the possibility of facing criminal charges at some point in their lives. In Minnesota, a relatively small amount of alcohol can result in a person being “over the limit” for DWI or DUI laws, regardless of how careful they are.
If you or a member of your family faces the possibility of being prosecuted for DWI in Minnesota, it is essential that you have a basic understanding of the different levels of DWI charges that can be filed. Armed with this knowledge, you will be better able to comprehend your situation or that of a family member who has been charged with DWI.
The Importance Of Hiring A DWI Lawyer In Minnesota
Before considering the different levels of DWI charges, it is imperative that you understand that the information provided here cannot replace an experienced, reputable, reliable, and devoted Minnesota DWI attorney. In a DWI case, the only way to ensure that your rights will be protected and that your interests will be fully asserted is to retain a competent Minnesota DWI attorney.
In this regard, the DWI attorneys at Ambrose Law are prepared to provide you with the tenacious defense you need in any type of DWI case. In addition to reviewing the information and resources provided for your general consideration on this website, we encourage you to contact our firm directly to schedule an initial consultation today.
Minnesota’s Driving While Intoxicated Statute
In Minnesota, there are four levels or degrees of DWI charges.In our discussion of these four types of DWI offenses, the levels of intoxication are presented from least to most severe.
A DWI of the fourth degree is a misdemeanor. A person may be charged with and convicted of a fourth-degree DWI if he or she has not been convicted of a driving while impaired offense within the preceding ten years. In addition, a person charged with this level of DWI must have consented to an Intoxilyzer or blood or urine test. In addition, there must be no aggravating circumstances associated with the arrest. A person convicted of DWI in the fourth degree is subject to up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
A DWI of the third degree is a gross misdemeanor. A person can be charged with and convicted of a third-degree DWI if they have one prior conviction for driving while impaired within the past 10 years. A person can also be charged with this level of DWI if he or she refuses to submit to an Intoxilyzer or blood or urine test as directed by the officer. A person can be charged with DWI in the third degree if one of the various aggravating factors is present. A person convicted of DWI in the third degree faces up to one year in jail, a maximum fine of $3,000, and often a mandatory minimum jail sentence.
A second-degree DWI is a gross misdemeanor. A person can be charged with and convicted of a second-degree DWI if they have two prior convictions for driving while impaired within the past 10 years. Additionally, a person can be charged with this level of DWI if he or she has a prior conviction within the past ten years and refuses to submit to an Intoxilyzer or blood or urine test. A person can be charged with DWI of the second degree if he or she refuses to take the tests mentioned a moment ago and if one of the numerous aggravating factors is present. Lastly, a person can be charged with DWI in the second degree if two aggravating circumstances exist. A second-degree DWI conviction carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a maximum fine of $3,000. The police and prosecutor have the authority to seize the vehicle used in the commission of a second-degree DWI, but this can be challenged.
A DWI in the first degree is a felony. A person can be charged with and convicted of a first-degree DWI if they have three prior incidents of driving while impaired within the previous ten years. A person can also be charged with and convicted of DWI in the first degree if he or she has ever been charged with a prior felony or DWI in the first degree. A person can be charged with and convicted of DWI in the first degree if they have been convicted of criminal vehicular operation in the past. In cases of DWI of the first degree, additional aggravating factors are not taken into account. A person convicted of DWI in the first degree faces up to seven years in prison and a maximum fine of $14,000. First-degree DWI charges also allow the police and prosecutor to seize the vehicle used to commit the offense, although this can be contested.
When arresting someone for DWI in Minnesota, the entire process can be overwhelming and confusing. Almost always, the person is asked a number of questions, requested to perform field sobriety tests, requested to submit to a PBT, arrested, transported to a police station, and then (presumably) read their rights before being asked to take a chemical test once more.
It is not uncommon for a person to refuse a formal demand for a breath, urine, or blood test because they are so overwhelmed, confused, or otherwise. When this occurs, the individual may face more severe criminal and collateral consequences as a result of refusing a DWI test.
The Minnesota Implied Consent Statute
All drivers and operators of motor vehicles are presumed to have given their consent to chemical testing under Minnesota law. This means that if a police officer has reasonable suspicion that you have been drinking and driving, he or she can require you to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test. Note that a preliminary breath test (PBT) is distinct from the more stringent DATAMASTER breath test. You may refuse the PBT, but refusing the DATAMASTER is illegal.
You can be charged with a gross misdemeanor if you refuse to submit to the necessary blood, breath, or urine tests. You have the right to consult with an attorney before taking any test. Utilize this privilege and contact Ambrose Law immediately.
Testing Procedure for Refusal of a DWI Test
It is essential to understand that the DWI test refusal discussed in this blog pertains to the formal test offered at the police station and not the PBT administered at the side of the road. The latter may be refused without legal repercussions, other than an arrest. The officer invokes the implied consent law by requesting a formal breath, urine, or blood test after an individual is arrested and returned to the station.
If the officer wishes to administer a breath test using the DataMaster machine, he/she must first read the Breath Test Advisory and then obtain the individual’s consent. To conduct a urine or blood test, the officer must first obtain a search warrant. The detainee has the right to refuse any test, but must be informed that doing so is illegal.
Criminal Charges for Refusing a DWI Test
Even for first-time offenders, a DWI test refusal charge is a gross misdemeanor because it is considered an aggravating factor. Depending on the number of aggravating factors, it can range from a third-degree DWI to a first-degree DWI. The maximum penalty for a gross misdemeanor is one year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine. However, the mandatory minimum sentence depends on the number of prior convictions, not the number of aggravating circumstances.
In addition to the other DWI defenses that exist for all DWIs, a DWI Test Refusal requires the State to prove that the driver failed to complete the requested chemical test through verbal or physical refusal. Some situations are ambiguous, such as when a person attempts to submit to a breathalyzer test but cannot blow long enough or hard enough to register a reading. Or, a person who asks too many questions of the officer or otherwise delays the testing process may be deemed to have refused when, in fact, it is not sufficient to constitute a refusal.
Finally, it is essential to understand that the implied consent law must be followed precisely in order to successfully charge this offense. Meaning that the Breath Test Advisory must be read, the driver’s rights must be explained, an opportunity to speak with an attorney must be offered, and the driver must be informed that refusing is a crime. Although this is a simple task for the officer to perform, you’d be surprised at how often these statutory requirements are not met, resulting in a potential defense.
Collateral DWI Test Refusal Consequences
License revocation is the most immediate collateral consequence of a DWI test refusal. Even for a first offense, the license suspension period begins at one year. IF, HOWEVER, the individual pleads guilty to the DWI refusal charge, the suspension is reduced to 90 days. And if they plead guilty to a misdemeanor DWI of the fourth degree instead, their license is suspended for 30 days. This only occurs if the individual has never been convicted of a DWI. Fascinatingly, this creates a bizarre situation in which a person who knows they are intoxicated would be better off refusing the formal test and pleading guilty to either charge.In such cases, the period of revocation is either 90 or 30 days.
In contrast, regardless of how the criminal case is resolved, the revocation period is one year if the blitzed individual tests above.16. In addition to losing driving privileges for varying lengths of time based on the circumstances, refusing a DWI test can result in the impoundment of license plates and the forfeiture of the vehicle. If you are facing criminal charges for refusing a DWI test, you should be aware that prosecutors tend to take these charges more seriously than a standard DWI. They frequently view a Defendant charged with refusal as noncompliant and as someone who disregards the law. To ensure that you receive the proper defense and fight for your future, it is essential that you hire an experienced and strategic DWI lawyer.
Consult With A Lawyer Who Remains Current As The Laws Are Changing
The laws governing blood, breath, and urine testing are in constant flux. The U.S. Supreme Court and the Minnesota Supreme Court are currently debating whether blood and urine tests by law enforcement officers require a warrant. Due to ongoing cases like these, please contact me to discuss your legal rights. At Ambrose law firm, I work diligently to stay abreast of this rapidly evolving aspect of DWI law.
Free Consultation Available
Start Your Defense As Quickly As Possible Remember that you can request to speak with an attorney before submitting to a DWI breath or chemical test in order to fully understand and protect your rights, so contact Ambrose Law. You can also count on us to defend you against DUI and DWI charges if you fail a breath or chemical test.
If you’ve spent much time driving in Minnesota, you may have noticed a few vehicles with plain white license plates with black or blue lettering, with the letter W always appearing first. These are often referred to as “whiskey plates.” Individuals who have been involved in certain DWI/DUI incidents in Minnesota are required to display these plates on their vehicles.
What Function Do Whiskey Plates Serve?
Some individuals believe that whiskey license plates are intended to humiliate convicted drunk drivers. That is not the case, however. The true function of whiskey license plates is to aid law enforcement.
When an officer sees whiskey license plates on a vehicle, it indicates that the driver has been previously arrested for DWI, and it is intended to heighten the officer’s awareness of the driver’s risky behavior.
The compulsory registration of whiskey license plates is known as “plate impoundment.”
Can law enforcement stop you at any time if you have whiskey plates?
In the past, officers were permitted to randomly pull over vehicles with a whiskey license plate. The Supreme Court of Minnesota has finally put an end to this. Today, police require probable cause to stop any vehicle, including those with whiskey license plates. Typically, if you have whiskey license plates, police officers will follow you for longer, waiting for you to commit a minor traffic violation that gives them probable cause to pull you over.
Which DWI Charges Result in Whiskey Plates?
First-time DWI offenders are typically exempt from registering for whiskey plates. Instead, whiskey license plates are reserved for drivers whose actions are deemed more serious or habitual.
- Your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of your arrest was 0.16 or higher (even if this is a first-time offense)
- You have had a DWI or refused to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test within the past ten years. • You had a child under the age of 16 in your vehicle at the time of your DWI/DUI. • You received a DWI while driving while your license was suspended, canceled, or revoked.
If your vehicle has whiskey plates, can you drive another vehicle without them?
If you are required to obtain whiskey license plates, you must obtain them for every vehicle you own or plan to operate. Therefore, your spouse’s vehicle and your children’s vehicles will require whiskey plates, even though they did not receive a DWI. If you received a DWI while operating a friend’s or other non-owned vehicle, the owner of that vehicle will likely be required to obtain liquor plates.
How long do whiskey plates remain attached?
If whiskey plates are required in your situation, you must display them for one year plus any additional time you are without a valid license. If your license is able to remain valid because you are enrolled in an ignition interlock program, you will still be required to display whiskey plates for the first year of the program.
Receive Assistance Combating DWI/DUI Charges to Avoid Whiskey Plates
In Minnesota, you may be required to display whiskey plates if convicted of certain drunk driving offenses. You must fight the charges in order to avoid conviction and minimize other penalties, such as jail time, fines, and license suspension.
Ambrose Law’s DWI defense attorneys have helped hundreds of individuals in Minnesota fight their drunk driving charges. If you have been arrested, contact our Minneapolis firm at or online today for a free consultation.