A few drinks out at a bar or a friend’s house may not seem like enough to impair your judgement, but Minnesota state law does not see it that way—and nor do the police officers who enforce that law. If you are convicted of driving while impaired, you may end up facing numerous fines, have to give up your driver’s license or vehicle, and potentially even serve time in jail.
Whether you are facing misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony DWI charges, representation from a Bloomington DWI lawyer may be essential if you want to effectively pursue a favorable case resolution. With help from a trusted attorney who has handled similar cases before, you could enforce your legal rights and defend your best interests in court much more effectively than you likely could alone.
What Constitutes Driving While Impaired in Bloomington?
As per Minnesota Statutes §169A.20, a person may be charged with DWI if they operate or physically control a motor vehicle while any of the following conditions are true:
- They are under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or any other legal intoxicating substance or medication, based on the observations of a law enforcement official
- They have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeding 0.08 percent within two hours of operating any motor vehicle
- They have a BAC exceeding 0.04 percent within two hours of operating any commercial motor vehicle
- They have any amount of any Schedule I or II controlled substance in their body
Subdivisions 1a, 1b, and 1c of this statute enforce identical restrictions on the operation of—respectively—motorized watercraft, snowmobiles and ATVs, and off-road vehicles and motorbikes. A qualified DWI attorney could help a defendant charged with operating any of these vehicles while intoxicated.
The presence of certain aggravating factors may increase the severity of a DWI charge, and accordingly the severity of consequences upon conviction. These factors include having a child under 16 years of age and more than three years younger than the defendant in the vehicle, having a BAC of over 0.16 percent, and having previously been convicted of a DWI offense within the ten years prior to a current DWI charge.
DWI Charges and Potential Consequences
DWI offenses that involve no aggravating factors are charged as fourth-degree driving while impaired under MN Stat. §169A.27, while the presence of one aggravating factor or two or more aggravating factors would enhance the offense to third-degree or second-degree DWI under MN Stat. §§169A.26 or 169A.25, respectively. Refusing to take a chemical blood alcohol test when asked to do so by a police officer automatically constitutes a third-degree DWI offense, or a second-degree offense if one or more aggravating factors is present.
As a DWI attorney familiar with the local court system could clarify in further detail, fourth-degree DWI is a misdemeanor offense for which criminal sanctions may include a 90-day jail sentence and a $1,000 fine, and both third-degree and second-degree DUI are gross misdemeanor offenses punishable by up to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine. Mandatory minimum sentences usually apply if someone is charged with gross misdemeanor DWI because of their record of prior DWI convictions.
Finally, if someone is convicted of DWI three or more times within ten years, or if they were previously convicted of felony DWI or any other felony driving offense, any subsequent offense would be first-degree DWI, a felony punishable under MN Stat. §169A.24 by up to seven years of imprisonment and a $14,000. For all levels of DWI in Bloomington, various administrative penalties may result from a conviction as well, including lengthy license suspension, license plate impoundment, and/or forfeiture of vehicles.
Consider Speaking with a Bloomington DWI Attorney About Legal Options
Contesting a DWI charge is rarely a simple matter, even if you have never been convicted of drunk driving before. If you do have a prior record, it may be even harder for you to avoid serious personal and criminal consequences without help from a seasoned legal representative.
Fortunately, if you were recently charged with any variety of DWI offense, a skilled Bloomington DWI lawyer is just a phone call away. Get in touch today to learn more about the guidance and support an attorney could provide throughout your case.