In order to obtain a DWI conviction, the state must prove every element of its case beyond a doubt. But often, the weakest part of the state’s case is the police stop. If the legality of the stop can be successfully challenged, it may be possible to get the charge dismissed or reduced to a non-alcohol driving offense.
The officer must have a reasonable, and explainable, suspicion that the driver is intoxicated prior to pulling them over. Without a “reasonable articulable suspicion” the traffic stop is unlawful and can be disputed.
There are multiple methods for determining intoxication, but law enforcement officers tend to use three main tests: breath, urine, and/or field sobriety tests. Due to Minnesota’s “implied consent” law, all drivers in the state are required to submit to a test if lawfully requested by a law enforcement officer. Refusing to do so is against the law and can lead to further penalties.
Breathe testing is one of the most forms of testing used by law enforcement due to the machine’s portability, instant results, and assumed objectivity and accuracy. Unfortunately, the results aren’t always as accurate as we might hope.
The legal breath alcohol limit in Minnesota is 0.08, meaning the driver is likely to be arrested and charged if the breath tester shows any number above that. What our attorneys work to investigate is whether the machine was used properly, accurately calibrated, and well maintained. Even involuntary actions from the driver such as burping or acid reflux can increase the perceived BAC.
While most states have abandoned urine testing, Minnesota is one of four states that still use it. A urine test involves the accused individual providing a sample of their urine to be tested for metabolites, or leftover traces of drugs. There are a number of problems with this method, which is the reason why it is no longer used in most states.
Some of the larger problems with urine testing are due to simple biology. Not only can alcohol reside in the bladder long after the driver has sobered up, but there isn’t a universal ratio for BAC to urine alcohol content. While there are estimations, it can range from 0.8 time greater than BAC to 2.0 time greater. Beyond the biological problems, police and technicians can easily make mistakes during collection, handling, and testing.
Field sobriety tests are often used by law enforcement officers prior to ordering a chemical test. They are often subjective and can be difficult for people with disabilities to complete. Some common tests include standing on one leg, reciting portions of the alphabet, and walking in a straight line. Due to the subjectivity of these tests, they should not be used as sole proof of intoxication.
Getting a DWI Defense Attorney in Hennepin County and Twin Cities
A DWI charge can have serious penalties, ranging from fines to jail time to license suspension. This is why it is vital that you don’t try to fight your charge alone. With help from our experienced lawyers at Sheridan & Dulas, P.A. you can know that your case is in good hands. Contact our firm today for a free consultation and to learn about your options.