While it may be a relatively common criminal offense in Minnesota, driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious crime that can have grave consequences for any accused person. Even a first DUI offense could lead to extensive fines and a license suspension, and repeated or particularly severe DUI convictions could result in lengthy prison sentences and vehicle forfeiture.
When facing any type of DUI charge, getting help from the right defense attorney could make a huge difference in the resolution of your case. By working with a seasoned Minnesota DUI lawyer, you could reduce the impact that this allegation and the repercussions it carries can have on your life.
What Constitutes “Driving While Impaired”?
As per Minnesota Statutes § 169A.20, there are numerous grounds under which a police officer could arrest someone for “driving while impaired.” In objective terms, a person found driving, operating, or in physical control of a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above 0.08 percent is guilty of a DUI. Notably, anyone found with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher less than two hours after they operated or controlled a motor vehicle may also be charged with DUI.
A police officer may arrest someone and charge them with DUI if they reasonably suspect that person is under the influence of any combination of alcohol, drugs, or any intoxicating substance. Additionally, anyone whose body contains any trace of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance, besides marijuana, while they are operating or controlling a vehicle is presumed to be driving while impaired. A knowledgeable Minnesota attorney could clarify these definitions for a defendant and review potential methods for contesting a DUI accusation.
Degrees of DUI Offenses in Minnesota
There are four degrees of DUI offenses classified under state law and MN Stat. §169A.275 and 169A.276 define the applicable penalties for these crimes and enhancements for repeat convictions.
Fourth-degree DUI is the most basic form, as it involves no aggravating factors and no refusal to submit to a BAC test. Since this offense is a misdemeanor, the maximum penalties for a conviction would be a 90-day license suspension, a $1,000 fine, and a 90-day jail sentence.
Third-degree DUI charges involve at least one aggravating condition, such as driving with a BAC over 0.16 percent, a prior DUI conviction within 10 years, driving while intoxicated with a child in the car, or a refusal to submit to blood testing. Second-degree DUI charges require at least two aggravating conditions. These offenses are gross misdemeanors with mandatory minimum jail sentences attached, as well as much lengthier license suspensions and steeper fines.
Anyone charged with DUI after having been convicted of three or more misdemeanor DUI offenses, or one or more felony DUI offenses, within 10 years may face felony first-degree DUI charges. This crime is punishable by a prison sentence of three to seven years and a maximum $14,000 fine. Anyone facing any degree of DUI accusation in Minnesota should contact a skilled lawyer as soon as possible.
A Minnesota DUI Attorney Could Help You Avoid a Criminal Conviction
Even if you possess a clean criminal history, a single DUI arrest could have an immense impact on your life. A conviction for this offense could significantly limit your personal and professional opportunities, and subsequent convictions come with increasingly severe sanctions.
If you want to defend yourself against your intoxicated driving allegations, you should strongly consider retaining a Minnesota DUI lawyer who is knowledgeable about this area of law and has extensive experience working in the local court system. Schedule your first consultation by calling today.