Most police contacts happen in cars and motor vehicles. So it’s no surprise then, that the majority of criminal law problems are traffic and motor vehicle related. A driving charge can include criminal DUI claims; speeding or other vehicle violation; Driving After Revocation and drivers license issues – even equipment violations. Basically, it can be any charge relating in way to your car or operating it. But a driving attorney can help prevent and solve these problems.
Why is a driving charge important? Because they are the only police contacts most people will ever have. And, traffic stops can lead to searches and serious criminal charges – not necessarily vehicle-related. So a driving attorney can get a judge to suppress illegal evidence where the traffic stop was unlawful; or when police unlawfully prolong the traffic stop.
What is at stake? Do you need a driving attorney?
For vehicle-related felony charges prison is either a possibility or a presumptive sentence under the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines. But most vehicle-related charges are not felonies.
A felony is generally an impaired driving claim plus priors or serious injury accidents. So, Criminal Vehicular Homicide, Criminal Vehicular Operation, and Felony DUI are examples.
Most cases with claims of impairment are not felony charges. But most DUI cases can result in jail, loss of drivers license, license record and insurance impacts.
Speeding and other traffic violation cases can be charged as misdemeanor or other levels of crime, but this is rare. So police charge most speeding tickets and traffic violations as a petty misdemeanor.
Keeping your driver’s license record clean
Step one – avoid conviction: A prosecutor cannot convict you of a crime without either a trial or a guilty plea. But a petty misdemeanor is “not a crime.” Therefore, they can convict you without a trial or formal plea.
So failing to respond to a petty misdemeanor ticket can result in a petty misdemeanor conviction by default. But a conviction can also result after a trial or a guilty plea in court.
Step two – avoid certification: And if a driving violation, the court “certifies” the conviction to the Department of Public Safety. MN DPS is the State of Minnesota’s version of the California DMV.
Step three – avoid long-lasting consequences: Then MN DPS will put the conviction on your driver’s license record. And this, in turn can trigger impacts upon driver’s license suspension, insurance and future police contacts.
The state can revoke your license, depending upon the severity of the violation, or prior record. And the insurance companies and police officers will then be able to see it on your driver’s license record.
Prevention is the solution. The best way to prevent driver’s license consequences is to retain the best driving attorney you can.
Driving charges range from a petty driving violation to Criminal Vehicular Homicide
Criminal Vehicular Operation
The most serious driving charge is a felony Criminal Vehicular Homicide. A felony Criminal Vehicular Operation charge is similar, but without a death. What are the basic ingredients of these charges? Most are essentially:
- DUI plus serious injury,
- Gross negligence plus serious injury, or
- Hit & run plus serious injury.
A good driving attorney is vital in one of these cases. Here are our offense specific pages:
Hit and Run
Whether you call it hit and run, or leaving the scene of an accident, it’s a serious charge. These case range from deaths to property damage only, parking lot bumps. They can be serious felonies down to a misdemeanor crime. But a driver without a good defense attorney is at great risk, no matter the scenario.
The state required accident report can be a trap. And a statement to police can put even innocent people at risk. You’ll need an experienced to defense attorney to protect you. Here is our guide to hit and run, and leaving the scene cases in Minnesota:
Driving Under the Influence
The most common serious vehicle charge is Driving under the Influence or DUI. In Minnesota, you can call it Driving While Impaired or DWI. It makes no difference.
Today, even with no “impairment,” you can still receive severe punishment if tested at 0.08 alcohol level or above.
Consequences include administrative revocation of your driver’s license, as well as a criminal DUI charge. And the criminal charge can be a misdemeanor, gross, or felony. So these are serious cases. You’ll need the best driving attorney to help you avoid severe consequences. Find out more on our DUI page:
For defensive measures during a DWI stop check out our: Countermeasures at a DWI Stop: the Party Question.
Is there a difference between reckless and careless driving? Very little. The good news is it’s not an alcohol-related offense. But for a person with an alcohol-related license revocation, that won’t matter unless they fight and win that too.
For people charged with a Careless only, it pays to keep it off the driver’s license record. It’s a misdemeanor crime. So it’s good to prevent getting a criminal record as well. You’ll need help from a good driving attorney. Find out more on our page:
The most common of all is a speeding ticket. Almost always it’s a petty misdemeanor. But police can ticket you for a misdemeanor speeding crime in rare circumstances. Regardless of violation level, an over 100 mph speeding conviction will trigger a six month license revocation. And if you become an “habitual violator,” even a petty can trigger a license suspension.
Of course, everyone wants to keep it off their driver’s license record. That can help prevent future tickets, and higher insurance rates. So in the long run, a good driving attorney is worth it. Learn more about defending a speeding ticket:
Though speeding tickets are the most common, there are other kinds of traffic tickets. They are generally petty misdemeanors. That means no jail or probation. But the fine pales in comparison to the effect on your driver’s license, drivers license record, and insurance. A driving attorney can help defend you from these:
Driving After Revocation
The State of Minnesota, Department of Public Safety (MN DPS), regulates drivers licenses. MN DPS is an administrative agency of the executive branch of the state. It operates under authority of both Minnesota Statutes and Minnesota Rules. Minnesota Rules are the administrative rules for state agencies. And under these laws, MN DPS can suspend, revoke or cancel driver’s licenses.
If someone drives after suspension, revocation or withdrawal of their license, a prosecutor can charge them with a crime. Usually the crime is at the misdemeanor level. And if convicted, the defendant not only faces jail and probation, but will also suffer an additional license revocation.
For some, this begins a revolving door of repeated Driving After Revocation offenses. And with priors, jail time is common. But a good driving attorney can you turn the corner and solve these problems. Find out more about defending these cases:
Driving Without Proof of Insurance
It’s a crime to drive without insurance in Minnesota. No one wants a criminal record, even for a misdemeanor like this. And if convicted of no insurance, MN DPS will revoke your driver’s license for at least 30 days. But a good driving attorney can help you avoid that. For more on defending these cases:
Other ways a driving attorney can help
Depending on your unique situation, you may want help from a driving attorney for other issues. For example:
- Drivers License suspensions, revocations, cancellations
- Equipment and Non-moving Violations
Call Minneapolis DWI Lawyer Thomas Gallagher at