Minnesota law allows law enforcement and prosecutors to seek charges for driving while impaired based upon two separate theories. The state can seek DWI charges based upon an officer’s observations of a suspect and the driving conduct of a defendant. The second theory may be more well-known to Minnesota drivers. The state sets the legal limit for driving at 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration. Law enforcement can seek a breath, blood or urine test under Minnesota’s implied consent laws based upon a reasonable suspicion that a driver is impaired.
But, as this blog has discussed, a implied consent alcohol test showing a 0.08 percent BAC reading is not the only alcohol level at which a DWI case may be influenced by the alcohol test report. A reading of 0.20 percent or greater can increase a DWI charge as an aggravating factor.
An Eagan man faces second-degree and third-degree DWI charges after a traffic stop on Highway 55 near Hiawatha Avenue. Airport Police claim a preliminary breath test during the traffic stop registered 0.344 percent BAC. It is not clear from the media if law enforcement obtained an evidentiary alcohol test during the investigation.
Authorities apparently are using a prior DWI conviction in the man’s record from 2009 to enhance the current DWI charges. However, DWI is not the only issue in the criminal complaint. Authorities claim that the Eagan man was uncooperative during the alleged incident.
Authorities accuse the man of banging his handcuffed hands against a wall and door while being interviewed after his DWI arrest. Police claim that the man damaged the wall and door and have brought a misdemeanor charge for property damage. Misdemeanor offenses carry a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Authorities can also seek restitution for property damage under Minnesota law.
Police claim that the Eagan man grabbed an officer’s duty belt while leaving an interview room at the police station. The officer further claims that the man tapped the officer’s chest with an elbow and raised his elbow toward the cops face at some point. In addition to the gross misdemeanor DWI charges, authorities in Hennepin County accuse the man of gross misdemeanor obstructing legal process.
Gross misdemeanor charges in Minnesota carry a maximum penalty of 1 year in county jail and a $3,000 fine.
Generally, Minnesota DWI laws have provisions for gross misdemeanor level and higher offenses that may include mandatory minimum time to be served behind bars. It is important to speak with legal counsel when facing a DWI offense in Minnesota as soon as possible after an arrest to help protect rights in the criminal and implied consent license revocation procedures. The amount of time to challenge a revocation is limited.
Source: Eagan Patch, “Eagan Man Blows .344 on Blood-Alcohol Test, Charged with DWI,” Betsy Sundquist, Sep. 19, 2012