Understanding “Next Day DWI" arrests in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety reports there were 25,027 driving while intoxicated arrests across the state in 2015 alone. While some are stopped on their way home from drinking, such arrests for others may come after they think they have done everything right by calling a taxi or having a designated driver take them home. This is because they may be arrested for drunk driving the day after drinking. In order to help protect yourself, it is important to understand the factors that may contribute to a Next Day DWI.

The BAC level

Much of the what the state relies on in drunk driving cases is the motorist's blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, level. The ratio of alcohol to blood in the body, the BAC level is obtained by measuring the amount of alcohol in a specific amount of blood or breath. In addition to the number of drinks people have had, there are numerous factors that may affect a person's BAC level. These include the following:

  • The person's weight
  • The person's gender
  • The length of time in which they consumed the alcohol
  • Whether they had anything to eat before or during their drinking

Many people believe the type of drinks they have affect their BAC levels. However, this is generally not the case. The percent of alcohol is the same in one 1.5-ounce shot of distilled liquor, one five-ounce glass of wine and one 12-ounce beer. There are, of course, some exceptions to this rule.

Metabolizing alcohol in the body

Once consumed, alcohol is quickly absorbed into the blood stream, and the body immediately goes about processing it. The breakdown of alcohol in the body primarily takes place in the liver, but it may also be eliminated through people's breath, sweat and urine.

On average, alcohol leaves the body at a rate of 0.015 grams per 100 milliliters every hour. At that rate, it may take an average-sized person anywhere from 75 to 90 minutes to metabolize the alcohol in one standard-size drink. If people consume alcohol faster than their bodies are able to process it, their BAC levels will continue rising as the alcohol builds up in their bodies. Further, their BAC levels may not reach their peak until well after they have stopped drinking, and may believe they are at an acceptable level to drive. This means a person who goes to bed at 2:00 am with a BAC level of 0.20 may still be considered legally intoxicated, with a BAC level of 0.095, on their way to work the next day at 9:00 am.

Working with a lawyer

A drunk driving arrest is a serious event with potentially life-changing consequences for people in Minnesota and elsewhere. Therefore, motorists who are facing DWI charges will benefit from obtaining competent legal representation. A well-trained lawyer will help ensure the driver's rights are protected throughout the process and aid them in building a strong defense.