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Police: Minnesota woman had Jell-O shots in pocket in DWI arrest

Minnesota's drunk driving statutes use a complex array of aggravating factors that may be used to enhance a charge for allegedly driving while impaired to a higher level of offense. Typically, a first-time offender is charged with a misdemeanor. However, a first-time offender may be charged with third-degree DWI if law enforcement or prosecutors allege that an aggravating factor was present at the time of the offense; a third-degree offense is a gross misdemeanor.

Among the aggravating factors that may apply on a first-time offense are an alcohol concentration reading of 0.16 percent or more or having a child under the age of 16 in the car if the driver is at least three years older than the child. Aggravating factors can increase a charge to a felony offense in some cases.

A prior DWI conviction or DWI-related loss of license within ten years can be used as an aggravating factor to enhance a new DWI charge. At the same time, the administrative civil sanctions that attach to the privilege to drive may also increase for repeat offenders. After a third DWI offense, a person may find that his or her license has been cancelled as inimical to public safety. A violation of driving after this kind of cancellation (referred to as a DAC-IPS charge) is a gross misdemeanor.

Police accuse Minnesota woman of felony drunk driving, DAC-IPS and providing police with a false name after she was stopped recently for allegedly swerving in Clay County. The Pioneer Press in the Twin Cities recently carried the story that alleges that police found three "Jell-O shots" in her pockets during her DWI arrest.

Authorities claim that the woman initially gave the officer a false name, but later provided her real name; she has multiple prior DWIs, according to authorities.

The case highlights how multiple offenses can be racked up in a single case, as well as the significant impact that repeat offenses may have on both the level of the criminal charge and the driver's license sanctions that are associated with a DWI arrest.

Source: Pioneer Press, "Minnesota DWI suspect had Jell-O shots in pockets, police say," Forum News Service, June 4, 2014

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