This blog has spoken about how prior convictions or DWI implied consent license revocations can stack up to increase the criminal charges in new and current DWI allegations. But he complex puzzle created under Minnesota’s DWI laws also include pieces called other aggravating factors that can increase exposure to time behind bars, increased fines and other increased consequences.
A recent story from near the Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport highlights the complexity of the state’s DWI puzzle. An Apple Valley woman reportedly was spotted by an airport officer on Interstate 494 near Highway 77 driving below the minimum speed limit of 40 miles per hour for that stretch of road. The officer claims that the car had crossed some lines while weaving, which led to a traffic stop just after 2:00 in the morning July 26.
Police say that the woman was driving with two young children in the car-ages 2 and 4-years-old. The officer reportedly expanded the scope of the scope of the traffic stop at some point to investigate the woman for DWI. The officer says that the woman had trouble providing a sample during a roadside preliminary breath test. The criminal complaint says that on a second try at the PBT, the woman registered 0.206 percent blood alcohol concentration.
The woman was hauled in for an evidentiary implied consent breath test. Again the officer says that she had difficulties providing an adequate breath sample. Sometime after 4:00 in the morning, the airport police officer claims that the woman provided a breath sample after several unsuccessful attempts. Police claim the final breath test result registered 0.19 percent BAC.
The woman was formally charged with second-degree DWI on the allegations. It is not clear from the media what the state is relying upon to enhance the charges from a fourth-degree-misdemeanor DWI to the second-degree gross misdemeanor offense.
Generally, prior DWI convictions can be used to enhance a repeated DWI offense to a higher degree. A qualified prior impaired driving incident within the ten years is one form of aggravating factor. As this blog has discussed, prior convictions and prior impaired driving-related losses of license can be used to increase a DWI charge to a higher level. But the law also allows prosecutors to seek higher degrees of DWI offenses based upon other aggravating factors.
An alcohol concentration of 0.20 percent or more is a form of aggravating factor that can be used to increase a DWI charge to a higher degree. Similarly, if a passenger in the vehicle is under the age of 16 and more than three years younger than the driver accused of DWI, that allegation is also considered aggravating factor under Minnesota’s DWI statutes.
That essentially means that a first time offender may be charged with second-degree DWI, a gross misdemeanor, if the person allegedly measures at, or above, 0.20 percent BAC within two hours of driving, and also has a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle at the time of the alleged offense.
- Apple Valley-Rosemount Patch, “Apple Valley Woman’s BAC Allegedly 2.5 Times Legal Limit While Driving Her Kids,” Betsy Sundquist, Aug. 3, 2012
- Minnesota Statute 169A.01 et seq.