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Southern Minnesota DUI & DWI Attorney

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What's the Difference Between a DWI and a DUI?

In Minnesota, there really isn’t that much of a difference. The term DWI is technically more accurate as 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 various substances in your bloodstream.

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

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

If you’ve been arrested for DWI, reach out to a Mankato DWI defense attorney at Kohlmeyer Hagen Law Office Chtd immediately. The faster we take charge of your DWI case, the better. We have represented many defendants and can meet with you for a free consultation if you call 507-625-5000.

Areas of DUI / DWI

DWI Table of Contents

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 take place 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. Depending on your specific case and situation, you may be required to testify. 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.

DWI/DUI Penalties in Minnesota

As skilled and experienced as your DWI or DUI attorney may be, each case is different and the outcome cannot always be predicted to be in your favor. There are many variables that are involved in every case. Between the witnesses’ testimonies, the prosecutor’s strategy, and the thought processes of the members of the jury, there is always a possibility that you will be convicted of a DUI or DWI. If this happens, under Minnesota law, you will be entitled to a sentencing hearing following your plea or trial, at which time the judge will decide what punishment, fine and/or sentencing you will be given.

Before attending your sentencing hearing, you will be given a Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI). The PSI is a meeting between yourself and a probation agent during which you will be given the opportunity to explain things as you see them and put your version of events on record. PSI meetings can be extremely intimidating and stressful for you, as the probation agent will also be asking you a lot of 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 length of the meeting will also depend on the specifics of your case. A few weeks after your meeting, the probation agent will send his or her written recommendation on what your punishment, fine, or sentencing should be, both to the prosecutor and your attorney. As soon as your lawyer receives this document, it is his or her responsibility to share it with you, review it and ensure you understand it, then discuss the next steps and your options.

In Minnesota, the prosecutor can go back 10 years in your records to determine if you have been convicted of a DWI or DUI or have lost your driver’s license due to being intoxicated while driving. The judge will also be notified of any such events that might have happened longer than in the past 10 years.

Mandatory minimum sentences for DUIs or DWIs in Minnesota:

All of this does not mean that you will necessarily be sentenced or fined the minimum penalty, but it is more than likely that the prosecutor will request it. At the sentencing hearing, you will be allowed to 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 6 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.

The punishment gradually gets much harsher for any repeated DWI/DUI offense.

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 10 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 1st degree being the more serious and leading to the most severe of punishments, and the 4th degree being used to sentence first-time offenders with no aggravating factors.

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

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 very specific limitations, which might include how many hours a day you are allowed to drive, where you are allowed to drive to and for what reasons. In most cases, the work permit specifies that the holder is allowed to drive only to and from work, but other conditions may be added depending on your specific situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Read About DWI Defense FAQs

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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 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.”