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Southern Minnesota DUI/DWI Attorneys

Minnesota has some of the nation’s strictest DUI/DWI laws, including for first-time offenders. If you face one of these charges in the North Star State, seeking help from an attorney who can effectively advocate for you is crucial.

Kohlmeyer Hagen, Law Office Chtd., has been helping people facing drunk driving charges in Southern Minnesota for many years. We have the experience, tools and resources to defend your reputation and freedom.

Learn more about what it means to face drunk driving charges in Minnesota, the penalties that can come with it, and why seeking help from qualified legal counsel is vital.

What’s The Difference Between A DWI And A DUI?

In Minnesota, there isn’t that much of a difference. The term DWI is technically more accurate than the title of the Statute. Minnesota Statute §169A.20 describes the offense as Driving While Impaired (DWI), which encompasses driving under the influence (DUI) of various substances, including alcohol, drugs or other intoxicating agents. The Statute also covers the offense of driving with unacceptable amounts of these different substances in your bloodstream.

If you are from Iowa, you may have heard it called OWI, which stands for Operating While Impaired, but we don’t call it that in Minnesota.

OWI, DWI, and DUI all mean the same thing here in Minnesota: that a person is operating a motor vehicle while impaired in some fashion.

If you’ve been arrested for DWI, immediately contact a DWI defense attorney at Kohlmeyer Hagen, Law Office Chtd.. The faster we take charge of your DWI case, the better. We have represented many defendants and can meet you for a consultation if you call 507-405-2442.

Areas Of DUI / DWI

The Pretrial / Omnibus Hearing

Before your trial, if it gets to that, your DWI or DUI lawyer will file motions. These motions address various constitutional issues. They might include:

  • The reason your car was stopped
  • Whether the officer had a reasonable basis to pull you over
  • Your legal right to counsel
  • Whether the officer performed the required Miranda rights
  • Whether there was a lack of probable cause for your arrest
  • Other specific issues related to your case

These motions occur at court hearings referred to as Pretrial or Omnibus hearings. Police officers, jail staff, and/or defendants sometimes offer the judge their testimonies during these hearings. You may be required to testify depending on your specific case and situation. According to Minnesota law, the judge present at your hearing must issue a ruling within 90 days of this hearing, determining how your DWI or DUI case will proceed.

What Is The Minnesota Implied Consent Law?

Similar to other states, Minnesota has an implied consent law. This law means that all drivers on public roads in the state “pre-consent” to post-DWI arrest chemical testing. If you are under arrest for DWI, you must provide a chemical sample, such as blowing into a breathalyzer. You can be charged with a DWI refusal if you refuse to give a sample. Authorities may still charge you with a drunk driving offense. To get more information about DWI refusal, please do not hesitate to contact our Southern Minnesota criminal defense lawyer.

DWI/DUI Penalties In Minnesota

As skilled and experienced as your DWI or DUI attorney may be, each case is different, and you can only sometimes predict the outcome. Many variables are involved in every case. Between the witnesses’ testimonies, the prosecutor’s strategy, and the thought processes of the jury members, there is always a possibility that you will face a DUI/DWI conviction. Under Minnesota law, you will be entitled to a sentencing hearing following your plea or trial if this happens. At that time, the judge will decide what punishment, fine, and/or sentencing to give you.

Before attending your sentencing hearing, you will get a Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI). The PSI is a meeting between yourself and a probation agent during which you can explain things as you see them and put your version of events on record. PSI meetings can be highly intimidating and stressful for you, as the probation agent will also be asking you many questions and putting your answers in writing. It is your attorney’s responsibility to prepare you for this meeting and take whatever time necessary to ensure you understand what is involved, what to expect, and how to navigate through it. Depending on the probation agent assigned to your case, your meeting should last about an hour. Some agents take longer, some take less time, and the meeting length will also depend on the specifics of your case. A few weeks after your meeting, the probation agent will send their written recommendation on your punishment, fine, or sentencing to the prosecutor and your attorney. When your lawyer receives this document, they are responsible for sharing it with you, reviewing it and ensuring you understand it, then discussing the next steps and options.

In Minnesota, the prosecutor can go back ten years in your records to determine if you have been convicted of a DWI or DUI or lost your driver’s license due to intoxication while driving. The judge will also be notified of events that might have happened longer than in the past ten years.

Mandatory Minimum Sentences For DUIs/DWIs In Minnesota

This does not mean you will necessarily be sentenced or fined the minimum penalty. Still, it is more than likely that the prosecutor will request it. At the sentencing hearing, you can present any reference letters, statements, documents, pictures, etc., that you and your attorney think will help your case.

The criminal penalties for convicted DWI/DUI offenders in Minnesota can be extreme. They range from no jail time and a low fine to up to six years in prison. Every county in Minnesota has different sentences for driving while impaired. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that your lawyer understands this and knows the differences in sentencing across Minnesota’s many counties.

In addition to fines and jail or prison time, Minnesota DWI punishment in criminal court might include mandatory DWI alcohol education courses, DWI driver’s license consequences, such as revoking of your license, personal or commercial, and more. There are various levels of sentencing, as well. Even a first offense DWI or DUI can earn the offender up to one year in jail and a fine of $3,000. The severity of the offense, and consequently of the punishment, will depend on various factors, such as how high your blood alcohol content was at the time of your arrest or whether or not a child was present in the car.

Punishment Gradually Gets Harsher For Repeated Offenses

Some of the consequences include:

  • A mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days in jail
  • Community service
  • Immediate impound of your vehicle
  • Forfeiture of your vehicle

Minnesota DWI laws make a fourth DUI/DWI conviction within ten years a felony. Minnesota DWI law for a felony driving while intoxicated conviction means a sentence of three years in prison and a fine of no less than $14,000.

Minnesota law will rank all DWI or DUI convictions using a four-tier rating system, the first degree being the most serious and leading to the most severe punishments. The fourth degree is used to sentence first-time offenders with no aggravating factors.

As so many variables affect sentencing, fines, and punishment, you need to ensure you have a skilled and experienced lawyer specializing in DWI and DUI cases in Minnesota working on your case.

What Are DUI/DWI Work Permits?

In Minnesota, a work permit is a driver’s license granted with conditions for individuals whose driver’s license has been revoked following a DUI or DWI conviction. Minnesota’s work permits have particular limitations, including how many hours a day you can drive, where, and for what reasons. The work permit usually specifies that the holder can drive only to and from work. Still, courts may add other conditions depending on your situation.

Aggravating Factors That Could Increase Penalties

Your history (or lack of history) of DWI offenses is not the only issue affecting your penalties. You could face a harsher sentence if an “aggravating factor” existed. Some notable examples of an aggravating factor that could make a DWI charge or DUI charge more serious include:

  • High degree of intoxication (BAC of 0.16 or higher)
  • A child is present in the vehicle
  • Causing a serious or fatal accident while intoxicated

If any of these apply to you, contact our Mankato or Rochester office today.

Frequently Asked Questions About DUIs/DWIs

Here are some of the most common ones we find our clients asking:

What Will Happen At A DWI Defense Trial In Southern Minnesota?

You have the right to request a trial by jury if your offense is deemed a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor. If you haven’t been charged with more than three DWI or DUI offenses in the past ten years, you can expect the trial to last 1-2 days and the jury to amount to six individuals residing in the county you were charged. If you already have three DUI or DWI charges accumulated within the last ten years, you will go through a felony trial. In Minnesota, a felony trial means you have the right to be judged by a jury of 12 individuals from your own county.

The first step of any trial is the selection of the individuals who will make up the jury. Jury selection can take several hours, as your attorney will do their best to find jury members that will be impartial and that will be able to review and judge your case neutrally. Once everyone agrees on who will constitute the jury, the prosecutor in your case will make their opening statement, explaining to the jury their understanding of your case and the reason and way they will go about convincing them that you are guilty of driving while impaired or driving under the influence. It will then be your attorney’s turn to make their opening statement. They will take advantage of this time to show the jury what problems or flaws they see in the prosecutor’s case. This might include showing that the Intoxilyzer test was inaccurate, that it didn’t perform the blood draw correctly, or any other process that might not be valid, depending on the specifics of your case.

Witnesses will testify once both parties have made their opening statements. These witnesses might include the police officer who arrested you, the individual who performed the Intoxilyzer test, and any other person the prosecutor believes will help convict you of a DWI or DUI. Your lawyer’s approach during this time will be to get involved in the questioning process and point out any inconsistency in each witness’s testimony. Once the prosecutor finishes presenting their case, it will be your turn to call witnesses to the bar. These witnesses will be called to help show that you are not guilty of committing a DWI or DUI and might include individuals such as eyewitnesses, passengers who were with you at the time of the arrest, or a blood alcohol expert who can explain why the test was not performed correctly and should, therefore, be disregarded. At the end of the testimonies, both your lawyer and the prosecutor will make their closing statements, and the jury members will be asked to proceed to the jury room to deliberate on your case. This means they will review the evidence and testimonies of all the witnesses, discuss the prosecutor and your lawyer’s arguments, and ultimately come to a unanimous decision on whether or not you are guilty of the crime you were charged for.

As you can see from these proceedings, a trial is a complex process. This outlines how processes go for the most part. Still, as every trial is different, many twists and turns can influence whether or not you will walk away free and without conviction. You must contact a lawyer specializing in DUI and DWI cases immediately. Only some generalist attorneys can successfully navigate the complex and intricate laws specific to DUI and DWI cases. Thankfully for you, in Minnesota, you can count on the expert advice and representation that Kohlmeyer Hagen, Law Office Chtd. offers.

What Are Negotiations?

Many cases do not even go to trial, as plea bargains settle them with the prosecutor. During negotiations, your attorney will speak with the prosecutor and point out the problems, flaws, and gaps they see in the prosecutor’s case. For negotiations to turn in your favor and avoid you having to go to trial, your attorney must be highly skilled and experienced in handling DWI and DUI cases. The best outcomes in negotiations come down to how well your attorney can study and take apart the prosecutor’s chance to prove to them that they will not get a conviction by going through a trial and to convince them that it is better for everyone involved to settle the case outside of the courtroom through the negotiation process.

Call our law office immediately if you have been charged with a DWI or DUI in Minnesota. We will offer you a consultation and will be happy to put our years of experience in DUI and DWI cases at your service to help you put this experience behind you and move on with your life.

Drivers License Suspended

So If I’m Innocent, The Judge Will Give Me Back My Driver’s License, Right?

Wrong. Many people believe that the judge overseeing your DUI or DWI trial has the authority to take or give you back your driver’s license. This is false. In Minnesota, to get your driver’s license back or ensure that no charges will appear on your record, you must file a civil lawsuit called a Petition for Judicial Review or an “Implied Consent Petition.” This lawsuit must be filed within 30 days of your arrest (not your conviction), so starting proceedings as quickly as possible is very important.

What If I Really Need My license?

The fact you really need your license is not a factor. Both the judge and the Department of Public Safety, Motor Vehicle Division, will consider this when sentencing or deciding whether or not to revoke your license.

But What If I Really, Really Need My License To Work And Take Care Of My Family?

Unfortunately, in Minnesota, the law does not allow for any exceptions that would enable you to get your driver’s license back. DWI/DUI laws are written based on areas such as Minneapolis/St. Paul, which has reliable and extensive public transportation systems. Unfortunately, what it really comes down to if you live in St. James, Mankato, St. Peter, Fairmont, Jackson or elsewhere in Southern Minnesota, is that you can not use alternative ways of getting around like taking the bus, light-rail, or even a taxi, and that is not factored into the judge’s decision of giving you a work permit or your driver’s license back.

If you lost your driver’s license and did not have access to alternative public transportation, you must explore other ways of going about your life. Here are a few suggestions that will allow you to get around even though you cannot drive:

  • Ask friends, relatives, co-workers, or neighbors to carpool
  • Hire someone to drive you around for a few weeks
  • Wherever possible, ask the grocery store to deliver your groceries
  • If possible, consider riding a bicycle to work

Of course, you should consider whether your current wages are worth the money you spend on various services, like a hired driver. Your best option is to hire a skilled DWI or DUI attorney who can get you your driver’s license back. The lawyers at Kohlmeyer Hagen, Law Office Chtd., most often succeed in reclaiming their clients’ licenses within weeks and even sometimes within a few short days. If you have lost your license and need to get it back quickly, contact us today for a private consultation: 507-405-2442.

How Can I Get A Work Permit?

First, you need to determine whether you are eligible for a work permit. You should discuss this with your DUI/DWI lawyer as soon as the judge has decided to revoke your driver’s license. Your attorney will review your case and determine whether or not you are eligible for a work permit, depending on various factors, such as the severity of your conviction and whether or not this was your first offense. If it is determined that you are eligible, here are the steps to follow to request and receive your Minnesota work permit:

  • Go to your local Driver’s License Testing Bureau.
  • Pay the $680 driver’s license reinstatement fee.
  • Take the driver’s license test. Obtaining a work permit requires you to take the written portion of the driver’s license test on a computer.
  • Request your work permit, also known as a “limited license.”
  • The Driver’s License Testing Bureau will then ask you to call the Department of Public Safety. This is to determine when and where you can drive and any additional limitations and conditions that will affect your work permit.
  • You must then wait the required waiting period.

How Long Must I Wait Before Being Granted My Work Permit?

In Minnesota, the required waiting period to be granted a work permit varies depending on your case’s specifics. In most cases, however, individuals requesting a work permit must wait at least half their driver’s license suspension period before being eligible for a work permit or limited license.

Will I Go to Jail?

Jail time is possible, though it is unlikely if this is your first impaired driving offense and you have no aggravating factors, like a very high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.16 or higher, or any children in the vehicle with you at the time of the arrest.

However, suppose you are a repeat offender or have aggravating factors present. In that case, you are looking at a minimum jail time. You should talk about your case with an attorney.

Will I Lose My License?

Yes. Something called administrative license revocation (ALR) comes into effect if you refuse a roadside test or fail it. Your license is immediately revoked, but you will receive a seven-day temporary license. Once the seven days are up, your license is revoked for a certain time.

Suppose you have no aggravating factors or prior impaired driving incidents within ten years. In that case, your license will be revoked for at least 90 days. Your license will be revoked longer if you have aggravating circumstances, prior convictions, or other administrative revocations.

You can fight any revocation by filing an appeal, but you’ll need a lawyer’s help. You might also qualify for a work permit, which can help you get to work, but you aren’t guaranteed one.

Do I Have Defenses To DUI?

Yes. Even if you blew a high number on a chemical test, you still might be able to beat the charge. Many possible defenses include:

  • The officer did not have probable cause to stop you. Lack of probable cause can result in charges getting thrown out.
  • You did not consume alcohol, and the breath test is picking up on something else.
  • The chemical test was improperly administered, or the results were compromised.
  • Any incriminating statements you make should be thrown out, which can weaken a case against you.

Every DWI case is different. Our firm does not employ cookie-cutter defense approaches. Instead, it analyzes the facts of your case to identify the strongest defense possible.

Can I Have A Jury Trial?

Yes. You have the right to request a trial by jury. Jury trials typically last a day or two. If this is your first offense, you will have at most six jurors. If you have had multiple impairment convictions recently, then you will have a felony jury trial, which has 12 jurors.

Why Do I Need A Lawyer?

Only an attorney understands how the prosecutor thinks. Sometimes, charges can be reduced or dismissed if the evidence is shaky because prosecutors do not want to risk losing. An attorney also understands the limitations of chemical tests and might be able to poke holes in this evidence.

Seek The DUI/DWI Defense You Need Today

Reach out to a DWI defense attorney at Kohlmeyer Hagen, Law Office Chtd.. We have represented many defendants and can meet you for a consultation if you call 507-405-2442. You can also reach us through our contact page.

DWI Testimonial

“I contacted Tom Hagen for a DWI charge; I was extremely impressed with Mr. Hagen; he knows his stuff, he’s patient, and he made sure that I understood what was going on. He set me up with an amazing plea agreement and helped me out more than I was expecting. If you are looking for a good lawyer, I would highly recommend looking into this office.”

– ALEXIS U.