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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. You can call DUI Attorney Thomas Gallagher for help: 612 333-1500.

Need Help with a DUI?

Minnesota DWI Lawyer Thomas Gallagher helps

After DUI arrests, 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 and criminal vehicular 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.

Good driving cases:  Minnesota DWI Lawyer, DUI Attorney
Good driving cases

Minnesota DUI Attorney Thomas Gallagher’s services:

  • midnight calls from jail (“should I give a breath, urine or blood sample for a DUI arrest? Should I get an Additional Test?“).
  • defeat DUI charges.
  • avoid lengthy jail or prison sentences in cases with priors.
  • get driver’s license back (and so, keep their jobs), and clean up the driver’s license record.
  • avoid or win back their car and vehicle after police seizure in DWI forfeiture cases.

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/em>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 DUI Lawyer to help you fight back.

The penalties for a Minnesota DWI grow ever more severe. So, including increased insurance rates, typically 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:

  • special “whisky” DWI license plates,
  • a car forfeiture, or even
  • a lifetime loss of normal Minnesota drivers’ license (with a “B-Card” license, eventually).

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 can help defeat those charges.

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. (Have you noticed? We don’t hear about “Drunk Driving” any more; because most were not drunk.)

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

Gin_and_Tonic. Need a DUI Attorney?
Need a DUI Attorney?

Administrative 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,” “implied consent revocation”); and,
  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. 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 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. But Attorney Thomas Gallagher does win many of these cases.

Crime of Refusal to Provide a Bodily Fluid or Breath Sample

To coerce “consent” to testing; the Minnesota legislature made refusal a crime. And, it made refusal a more serious crime; and made drivers license consequences more severe for refusal as well.

DWI and Driving-Related Legal Problems

Criminal Alcohol-Related Driving Cases:

  • Felony DWI, First Degree Driving While Impaired (Presumptive three years prison)
  • Gross Misdemeanor DWI, Second Degree and Third Degree Driving While Impaired (one year jail maximum)
  • Misdemeanor DWI, Fourth Degree Driving While Impaired (90 days jail maximum)
  • Mandatory Minimum sentencing, staggered sentencing
  • High Claimed Alcohol Level Report (0.16 or more)
  • Dismissal Before Trial Motions

Drivers License Revocation: “Implied Consent” Statute

  • Driver must serve and file “Petition for Judicial Review” within 60 days, or revocation becomes permanent
  • State claims “consent” obtained after driver coerced with threats of prosecution
  • Illegal stop, results in clean record
  • Illegal arrest, results in driver win
  • Drinking After Driving defense
  • Police failed to observe driving
  • Not driving, operating or in control
  • Lack of temporal connection between driving and claimed alcohol level “test”
  • Denial of Right to Pre-“test” Legal Counsel results in state losing
  • Police misleading or driver confusion can result in driver win in court
  • Unreliable chemical “test” (breath, urine, blood) results in driver win
  • Police Failure to Vindicate Right to Counsel
  • Police Denial of Right to Additional Test

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

  • Time-limited, to file court challenge
  • “Cancelled and Denied” drivers, who later get “no alcohol” restrictions on “B-Card” licenses
  • Others, who seek a 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 very 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.

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 the child is more than 36 months younger than the offender.”

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.

Ignition Interlock Minnesota. DUI Attorney, Minnesota DWI Lawyer
Ignition Interlock Minnesota

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.

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. That will require retaining a DUI Attorney soon enough to act on the drivers behalf.

See our article: 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.

Preconditions to PBT request:  Minnesota DWI Lawyer, DUI Attorney
Preconditions to PBT request

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 if possible.

After these, 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 result in a claim of probable cause to arrest.

Chemical Test at 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 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 Chemical 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 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, Limited 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.

ETOH dog molecule. DUI Attorney, Minnesota DWI Lawyer
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 week 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 (but sometimes release to sober adult picking up, or transfer to Detox)
  • Gross Misdemeanor Refusal probable cause hold, in jail
  • Gross Misdemeanor 0.16 or higher Alcohol level probable cause hold, in jail

Otherwise, police release the person with:

  • a citation-summons, as well as
  • an implied consent “Notice of Administrative License Revocation,” and sometimes
  • Plate Impoundment notice and
  • 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 DUI Attorney 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 our article: Get Out of Jail After Arrest – Tips for Getting Your Loved One Out

Why is Thomas Gallagher the best DUI Attorney for you?

Thomas Gallagher has over 35 years experience as a Minnesota DWI Lawyer. During that time Gallagher won a large percentage of DWI cases, using persistence and creativity.

Could you benefit from his winning experience, in your DWI case?

Gallagher Criminal Defense logo 200

Types of DWI cases handled by Gallagher Criminal Defense in Minneapolis:

  • Criminal Vehicular Homicide (CVH)
  • Criminal Vehicular Operation (CVO)
  • Felony DWI
  • First Degree, Second, Third, Fourth Degree DWI charges
  • First-Time DWI Arrests
  • Implied Consent License Revocations
  • Plate Impoundment Challenges
  • Car Forfeiture Recovery Actions
  • DUI Marijuana
  • DWI Prescription Drugs

Important Issues in Minnesota DWI Law:

FAQ: “When Should I Retain a DUI Attorney?”

Most people arrested for DWI are aware of the court date in the criminal case.

But most are not aware that it’s your responsibility to challenge the driver’s license revocation within 60 days. That means serving and filing a “Petition for Judicial Review.” You’ll need an attorney to help with that.

And any DWI Plate Impoundment challenge must be within 60 days also.

Most DWI Vehicle Forfeitures are administrative. You must challenge them within 60 days, too.

Most importantly, Minnesota courts have ruled that these deadlines are jurisdictional. They will not grant relief for a missed deadline, regardless of reason. No exceptions.

As a result, a person arrested for DWI should seek a good Minnesota DWI lawyer immediately. (And definitely do not wait until the court date in the DWI criminal case nears.) Most people want to retain their DWI lawyer as soon as possible, to being the process of challenging their drivers license revocation. Sooner they start, the sooner their license is restored, should they win.

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.

Gallagher-empowering-600 Minneapolis Criminal Defense
Thomas Gallagher, DUI Attorney

Minnesota DWI Lawyer Thomas Gallagher has helped clients avoid these. Gallagher 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.

Need the best DWI defense for your case? Or, have a question? Call Minnesota DUI Lawyer Thomas Gallagher at 612 333-1500 for a phone consultation.

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