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A Minnesota DWI Attorney Explains Possible Defenses in a DWI Case

When an individual is facing charges of any type of crime or offense, s/he is always looking for ways to mitigate the potential problems. In efforts to curb rampant DWIs, sanctions have become quite serious. Thus, if you are facing DWI charges, it is important to retain the services of a knowledgeable and skilled DWI attorney to help you obtain the best possible outcome.

The defense attorney is responsible gathering as much information about the details of a case as possible. This data comes from police reports, audio and video recordings, and suspect and witness testimony. By addressing all available evidence and discussing it with his/her client, the attorney can evaluate any possible strengths and weaknesses in a case to obtain the best possible outcome for his/her client. Whereas in some cases the attorney may get the entire case dismissed, in other circumstances a reduction in charges or some other element of damage control may occur.

There are several defenses to a Minnesota DWI charge. They include:

1. The defendant was not in physical control of the vehicle at the time of arrest.

For a successful DWI conviction, the prosecutor must prove the defendant was actually operating, driving, or in some other physical control of the vehicle at the time of arrest. If the defendant was sleeping inside the vehicle then a charge of DWI is likely far-fetched. However, if an intoxicated motorist is trying to change a flat tire then it could be inferred that s/he was likely driving while under the influence.

2. The officer had no legal basis for a traffic stop.

First and foremost, did the police officer have a legal basis to stop the defendant in the first place? Police may not stop drivers on a whim based on the time of day, whether s/he was in the vicinity of a bar, or based on some other legally insufficient reason. On the other hand, an equipment malfunction or moving violation would give the officer an adequate legal reason to stop a motorist. During trial, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the traffic stop was legally valid. Any possible questions as to the legitimacy of a traffic stop can get the case thrown out of court.

3. The officer did not have probable cause to believe the defendant was under the influence at the time s/he was stopped.

Separate from the legal basis for stopping the vehicle, the police officer must demonstrate s/he had probable cause that the motorist was driving while intoxicated such as observing overt signs of intoxication. Without adequate observation to satisfy the legal requirement of probable cause, a skilled attorney could get a DWI charge dismissed.

4. The officer interfered with the defendant’s right to consult with an attorney.

This is a fundamental right, pursuant to the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The officer must let the defendant make a phone call and give him/her a reasonable opportunity to do so.

5. The officer interfered with the defendant’s right to independent testing.

After the defendant submits to any testing as requested by the police officer, s/he also possesses the legal right to request an independent test as well.

6. The officer coerced the defendant into submitting to blood alcohol concentration (BAC) chemical tests or gave him/her inadequate information regarding such.

7. Inaccurate BAC chemical tests.

Under Minnesota’s implied consent law, if an individual is suspected of driving while intoxicated, s/he must submit to a breath test. In some cases, breath test contamination occurs. This usually happens with:

  • Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Inhalation and absorption of certain chemical fumes such as paint, fuel, solvents, kerosene, or other volatile chemicals
  • Substances in the suspect’s mouth at the time the test was administered such as chewing tobacco, smoke, or cough medicine, for example

 8. Any other type of police misconduct.

If you or a loved one is facing charges of DWI in Minnesota, or for more information, please contact us.


Disclaimer: The information contained on this page does not constitute an attorney client relationship. Be sure to contact our law office to discuss your case with an attorney.