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DUI Defense in Minnesota

DUI Attorney Thomas Gallagher’s Guide

Minnesota DWI Lawyer Thomas Gallagher helps people win their DUI cases. And he has, throughout the Twin Cities, and Southeastern Minnesota, since 1988. After DUI arrests, DUI Attorney Thomas Gallagher helps people fight DUI charges of every severity level:

  • DWI first offense charges,
  • second within ten,
  • felony DWI, to
  • criminal vehicular operation & homicide.

Minnesota DWI laws

Yes, Minnesota DUI laws are harsh. But Minnesota DWI lawyer Thomas Gallagher can use his education, skill and experience to defend you. And Attorney Thomas Gallagher works hard for the people he represents. He works for justice and fair enforcement of the laws.

Attorney Thomas Gallagher strives for excellence. That’s one reason why he is one of the best defense attorneys for a DUI case.

Minnesota DUI Attorney services

  • midnight calls from jail.
  • defeat DUI charges.
  • avoid lengthy jail or prison sentences (priors).
  • get driver’s license back, clean up record.
  • win back vehicle.

Attorney Thomas Gallagher works, to use and enforce the laws – criminal and civil; procedural and constitutional – to defend the legal rights of the person he represents. And by extension this work protects their families and the liberty and property rights of all the people of Minnesota.

Impaired by Alcohol? DUI Attorney

We don’t hear “drunk driving” much any more. After all, now the arbitrary limit in Minnesota for an alcohol concentration test is down to 0.08. And that’s about half the first presumptive threshold in the 1970s: 0.15.

But things have changed. And, penalties have become severe. So these days, you need a Minnesota DWI Lawyer to help you fight back.

The penalties for a Minnesota DUI grow ever more severe. So, including increased insurance rates, it can cost a person $15,000 or more over a five-year period. And consequences include the “implied consent” license revocation, jail or prison time.

For drivers with priors, more problems to avoid:

  • car forfeiture,
  • long-term loss of drivers’ license (with later “B-Card”).

Impaired Driving vs. Over the Limit

Justice vs. Expediency

Driving Under the Influence charges in Minnesota require convincing proof of driving, operating or “in control of” a motor vehicle. And that the person did so, while impaired by alcohol or another drug. But a good DUI Attorney may be able to defeat those claims.

An exception to the requirement of proof of impairment is Minnesota’s “per se” limit law. That law makes driving, operating or control of a motor vehicle a crime; if within two hours of an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.

Enforcement of a bright-line law is easier. But that easy enforcement can unfairly snare drivers who are not impaired. Sober drivers over 0.08% face a big initial shock. (We don’t hear about “Drunk Driving” any more; because most were not impaired.)

The bright-line 0.08 law does require chemical test evidence from a breath, blood or urine sample.

Admin License Revocation vs. Criminal DWI Charge

Even first-timers will have at least two legal actions taken against them by the government after a DWI arrest:

  1. Administrative Revocation of Drivers License (“civil”);
  2. Criminal DUI Charge.

Where a breath machine test reports 0.08 or more, or “refusal;” the police officer will provide a “Notice of Revocation and Temporary License.” This begins the “Administrative Revocation of Drivers License.” And this also is when the “alcohol-related incident” will go on your driver’s license record.

But in the case of a blood or urine test; the Notice should come by mail, after the lab test report is complete.

Either way, the driver must challenge the Administrative License Revocation by filing a “Petition for Judicial Review” within 60 days of the Notice. Or it will be too late. If done, the court will schedule a hearing on the matter before a Judge. (Driving After Revocation is a separate crime, which triggers yet another license revocation period.)

Win the hearing, and the Court will rescind the Administrative License Revocation. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety then deletes the “alcohol-related incident” from your driver’s license record.

But the driver must still avoid an alcohol-related, criminal DWI conviction; to prevent an “alcohol-related incident” on the “driver’s license record.”

So it’s a two-step process for the driver. Yes, the laws favor the State. We have to beat them twice. But Attorney Thomas Gallagher does win many of these cases.

Crime of Refusal to Provide a Sample

To coerce “consent” to testing; the Minnesota legislature made refusal to provide a sample a crime. And, it made refusal a more serious crime. They made driver’s license consequences more severe for refusal as well.

DWI & Driving-Related Legal Problems

Criminal Alcohol-Related Driving Cases:

  • Felony DWI, 1st Degree DWI (Presumptive three years prison)
  • Gross Misdemeanor DWI, 2nd & 3rd Degree DWI (one year jail max)
  • Misdemeanor DWI, 4th Degree DWI (90 days jail max)
  • Mandatory Minimum, staggered sentencing
  • High Alcohol Level Report (0.16 or more)
  • Dismissal Before Trial Motions

Drivers License Revocation: “Implied Consent” Statute

  • Driver must serve & file “Petition for Judicial Review” within 60 days
  • State claims “consent” after driver coerced
  • Illegal stop
  • Illegal arrest
  • Drinking After Driving defense
  • Police failed to observe driving
  • Not driving, operating or in control
  • Lack of temporal connection between driving & “test”
  • Denial of Right to Pre-“test” Legal Counsel
  • Police misleading or driver confusion
  • Unreliable chemical “test”
  • Police Fail to Vindicate Right to Counsel
  • Police Denial of Right to Additional Test

“B-Card” license, Minn. Statutes §171.19 Petition:

  • Time-limited, to file court challenge
  • “Cancelled & Denied” drivers, who later get “no use” licenses
  • Others seeking court hearing on license reinstatement

Plate Impoundment

In addition to criminal and drivers license consequences; Minnesota’s DUI laws provide for the impoundment of vehicle license plates. So, special plates are required for some facing repeat DWI charges. If police impound plates, a DUI Attorney can help challenge that. Then, win the challenge in court, and the driver gets their regular plates back. Otherwise, all vehicles must carry Special Plates, aka Whisky Plates, for a year.

Vehicle Forfeiture

Motive for false charges? Minnesota’s DWI laws now allow the government to seize your vehicle, sell it, and keep the money. And most of that money goes to the same police department that pulled you over and arrested you.

A prosecutor can attempt a vehicle asset forfeiture against those accused with prior impaired driving incidents.

“Do I need a Minnesota DUI Attorney?”

Short Deadlines: Given these laws, retain a Minnesota DWI Lawyer to help challenge the government case, and protect your rights.

Deadlines for action in the driver’s license, plate impoundment, and forfeiture cases, are short. The hard deadline is sixty days.

That is why you should employ a good DUI defense attorney as soon as possible after the date of arrest. And, the sooner you file a court challenge, the sooner the court may restore your license.

Ignition Interlock Minnesota.  Minnesota DWI Lawyer 220
Ignition Interlock Minnesota

Aggravating Factors: Criminal DWI Charges

The term “aggravating factor” includes:

“(1) a qualified prior impaired driving incident within the ten years immediately preceding the current offense;
(2) having an alcohol concentration of 0.16 or more as measured at the time, or within two hours of the time, of the offense; or
(3) having a child under the age of 16 in the motor vehicle at the time of the offense if … more than 36 months younger.”

If a prosecutor claims an “aggravating factor,” the DUI charge is more serious. For example, a prosecutor can “enhance” misdemeanor DUI to a gross misdemeanor or felony DUI based upon priors.

Sentencing Triggers

A DUI offense “within ten years of a qualified prior impaired driving incident” can have mandatory sentencing laws apply. So, this is due to the priors.

And this may create an issue. Because generally if a prosecutor uses a prior to enhance the criminal charge; they cannot lawfully be double-count it to inflate the length of the sentence later.

This is also an issue with Felony DUI charges based on priors within ten years.

Traffic Stop

Most DUI cases begin with a traffic stop. So in other words, they begin as a “Fourth Amendment Seizure” of a person by a government official. Police may not lawfully seize a person or impair their liberty without a warrant or justification.

For purposes of a Fourth Amendment Seizure; police must have facts supporting either:

  • “Reasonable, Articulable Suspicion of criminal activity,” or
  • observe a traffic law violation.

If the stop was unlawful, all evidence stemming from it must be suppressed. Then, with all evidence suppressed, criminal charges will be dismissed. And the state action against the driver’s license, plate and vehicle will be rescinded. But that will require retaining a DUI Attorney soon enough to act on the drivers behalf.

See Countermeasures at a DWI Stop.

Roadside Investigation

After a traffic stop, police officers will attempt to observe and gather evidence of impairment. This includes talking to the driver and others. Police seek admissions and observe speech and other behavior.

They will ask a driver suspected of DUI to perform roadside exercises, which they optimistically term “field sobriety tests.” Though police cannot require drivers to perform these; police will pressure the driver into performing, or into offering excuses.

The driver should make no excuses; since there is no legal requirement to do them. After all, these are false tests, unfair traps. Just decline to do them (politely, but decline).

Then, the police officer will normally request the driver to blow into a “Preliminary Breath Test (PBT)” machine.

Police cannot lawfully request a driver blow into a PBT without the preconditions required by Minnesota statute. But a driver who refuses to blow into a PBT at the side of the road can be arrested for refusing. Though notoriously inaccurate, PBT reports of 0.08 or more can be a basis for probable cause to arrest.

Chemical Test: Police Station or Hospital

After arrest, police may take the driver to a police station or hospital. And there police will request a sample for evidentiary chemical testing. The sample collected can be either breath, blood or urine.

All of these are searches. However police now need a search warrant to get a blood or urine sample.

Right to Call a DUI Attorney before Chem Test decision

Police may invoke the so-called “implied consent statute;” to take away the person’s drivers license before trial in the criminal case. If they do, police must read the “Minnesota Breath Test Advisory of rights,” including the right to consult a lawyer. Then when the driver chooses to call a Minnesota DWI Lawyer, police must help vindicate their right to counsel.

Right to an Additional Test, after police chem test

After that, if the person provides a sample for testing; they have a right to a second, “additional test.” An independent lab can then later analyze this additional test sample. If police interfere with this right, they cannot use the sample they collected. But the person must somehow know to ask for a phone to arrange an Additional Test. And this is one more reason to always call a lawyer before deciding whether to provide a sample to police for testing. (The lawyer can remind you of this right.)

Unreliable Science; Forensic Science issues

Targeting unimpaired drivers is unfair. But worse, unreliable science, or sometimes even misconduct by the state are fundamental flaws in anti-alcohol enforcement in Minnesota.

But an experienced Minnesota DUI Lawyer can spot these “forensic science” errors and omissions.

ethyl-alcohol 400 webp dog molecule
ETOH dog molecule

Jail vs Release from police station

After the roadside arrest, the police officer requests or forces a Chemical Test. With a breath machine, the machine reading shows a breath-alcohol level immediately. But with a blood or urine sample, the lab needs several weeks to report an alcohol level.

Most police will hold the person in jail for a few hours, or for a bail hearing when:

  • high alcohol level (or Detox)
  • Gross Refusal probable cause hold, in jail
  • Gross 0.16 + Alcohol level probable cause hold, in jail

Otherwise, police release the person with:

  • citation-summons,
  • implied consent “Notice of Administrative License Revocation” & sometimes
  • Plate Impoundment notice,
  • Administrative Vehicle Forfeiture notice.

Defenses; DUI Attorney

But even with all of the many Minnesota DUI laws, there are even more defenses that these new laws engender.

Does the legislature pass a new law every time the defense wins a DUI case? Seems like it. The laws are unfair. But that draconian unfairness helps fuel the defense to find paths to justice for drivers.

Some defenses have been around for decades or longer.

Others are of the timely nature. They have their season only until other newer defenses replace them. That’s why Minnesota DWI Lawyer experience counts.

We must collect every fact we can, then review what happened against what should happen, and the laws. The best DUI defense attorneys are the lead enforcers of the highest law of the land — the U.S. and Minnesota Constitutions. This benefits not only our clients, but all of us.

See Get Out of Jail After Arrest – Tips for Getting Your Loved One Out.

Why Thomas Gallagher is the best DUI Attorney for you

Thomas Gallagher has over 35 years experience as a Minnesota DWI Lawyer. During that time he’s won a large percentage of DWI cases, using persistence and creativity. Could you benefit from his winning experience, in your DWI case?

Types of DWI cases handled by Gallagher Criminal Defense:

Important Issues in Minnesota DWI Law:

Winning with your DUI Attorney

What does winning look like? Winning it all is the best outcome.

For first-timers, avoiding an alcohol-related incident on the driver’s license record counts as a win. This will save ten of thousands of dollars over the following few years.

For a person with priors, the priority often become avoiding lengthy prison or jail time. And avoiding Whisky plates, loss of drivers license are big concerns.

Minnesota DWI Lawyer Thomas Gallagher has helped clients avoid these. He will help you identify the best defense available, then work hard to win your case.

You can win. But you’ll need a good DWI Defense Lawyer to help make that happen.

Question? Call Lawyer Thomas Gallagher, 612 333-1500

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Thomas Gallagher, DUI Attorney

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