Being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) can be jarring. You might be unsure of what steps to take or who to turn to, especially if this is your first time being charged. Many prosecutors may take advantage of this and try to convince you to plead guilty. Too many assume they are guilty just because they were charged with the offense, which is simply not true.
After a first-time DUI in Minnesota, do not hesitate to contact an experienced defense attorney. A dedicated lawyer could assess your case and work with you to build a strong defense, making sure that prosecutors do not take advantage of you.
DUI State Laws
A DUI charge is serious criminal offense. This is true even if it is the driver’s first time facing this allegation. Under Minnesota Statute § 169A.20, the offense is actually called driving while impaired (DWI). However, these terms can be used interchangeably, and it is common for people to refer to this offense as either a DWI or DUI. On official paperwork, a driver will see that they are charged with a DWI.
A first-time DWI charge occurs if a person is driving, operating, or in physical control of a motor vehicle when they are:
- Under the intoxicating influence of alcohol or drugs
- Knowingly under the influence of a hazardous substance that could affect the body and substantially affect their ability to drive
- Operating a motor vehicle with a (BAC) of 0.08% or higher
- Driving with a Schedule I or II drug in their body, except for marijuana
Allegations of a DUI should be faced head-on with the help of a knowledgeable attorney. Even a first-offense DUI can result in significant penalties in Minnesota and set the stage for more serious consequences down the road.
First-Time DUI Penalties
A first-time DUI—or the first offense after ten years—is considered a misdemeanor charge. The maximum penalties for a conviction are ninety days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
The first-time DUI may be a gross misdemeanor instead if any of the following apply to the charge:
- The driver refused testing
- The driver had a BAC of .16% or higher
- A passenger who was under the age of sixteen was also in the vehicle
A gross misdemeanor carries more serious criminal penalties than a regular misdemeanor. These include up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $3,000. First-time offenders must also participate in chemical dependency assessments as part of their criminal sentence.
Dealing with Administrative Penalties
Not only are there criminal sanctions involved with a conviction, but a person could also face significant administrative penalties for driving under the influence. These sanctions are handled by the Department of Public Safety and apply immediately to the driver once they are convicted. Some may even apply before a conviction has happened.
A first DWI in Minnesota could result in revocation of the driver’s license for ninety days. This can increase to one year if the defendant blows .16% BAC or more or refuses testing. An experienced lawyer could help an individual understand the potential penalties they face for driving under the influence and work with them to mitigate these outcomes.
Defending First-Time DUI Charges in Minnesota
A charge for driving under the influence can have serious effects on your way of life and your future prospects. It is crucial to defend your case and work with legal counsel that has your best interests at heart. A strong criminal defense could make all the difference in the outcome of your case.
For help with your first-time DUI in Minnesota, work with a committed lawyer at BK Law Group. Call today to set up a free initial consultation with a seasoned member of our legal team.