What is criminal vehicular operation?

In November 2014, a driver in St. Paul struck a pedestrian who was crossing the road. According to TwinCities.com, the pedestrian suffered a brain hemorrhage and a broken rib, among other injuries. The 30-year-old motorist drove home, but law enforcement were able to determine his address by the car’s bumper and license plate, which had fallen off the vehicle at the scene.

The man, whose blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit, was arrested at his house and charged with criminal vehicular operation. As Minneapolis criminal defense attorneys know, such a charge can be a felony and therefore has serious consequences.

Defining the charge

According to the Minnesota statute, people may be found guilty of criminal vehicular operation when they have caused bodily harm to someone else while driving a vehicle under the following circumstances:

  • While having a blood alcohol content of .08 or more
  • While having any amount of a Schedule I or II substance other than marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols in their blood
  • While under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • While operating the vehicle in a grossly negligent manner
  • While having knowledge that a member of law enforcement had issued a ticket because of the vehicle’s defect or hazardous condition

A charge of criminal vehicular operation can also result when the driver leaves the scene of an accident.

The consequences

There are varying degrees of such a charge, and Minneapolis criminal defense attorneys understand the penalties associated with each. A felony charge will be applied to a situation in which the victim sustains either great bodily harm, which creates a high probability of death, or substantial bodily harm, which is typically a fracture or temporary disfigurement. These felony charges carry with them a maximum $10,000 fine, as well as up to five years in prison for an accident involving great bodily harm and three years in prison for substantial bodily harm.

If the incident involves an injury less than substantial or great bodily harm, the charge will often be classified as a gross misdemeanor. Defendants charged accordingly will still face as much as $10,000 in fines and a maximum sentence of one year in jail.

It is important to note that on top of prison time and fines, other penalties are often associated with criminal vehicular operation. For example, depending on the circumstances, drivers may lose their licenses and even have to forfeit their vehicles. A felony conviction in Minnesota can also mean losing the right to vote, as well as the right to possess a firearm.

Anyone with question about this type of charge should consult with Minneapolis criminal defense attorneys.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Confidential informants may provide integral information to help build criminal investigations, but how reliable is that information when they are receiving payment for their services? To protect them, state law requires the identity of informants be kept confidential. For those facing criminal charges, however, this creates challenges in questioning the accuracy and validity of the information given at trial.
Stay calm and compose after getting accused of a crime but not charged in Minneapolis, MN. Do not discuss the facts of your case with anyone, including your relatives and family members. Hire a criminal defense attorney with a demonstrated record of winning cases like yours. Your attorney will discuss your rights, guide you on how to cooperate with law enforcement within the legal boundaries, and build a solid defense strategy to fight the charges you could face in the future.
Expungement and sealing of records in Minnesota affect how your criminal history appears to government agencies and the public. The main difference between the two legal actions is that expungement permanently removes past arrests, criminal charges, or convictions from private and public databases, while sealing hides the criminal record from the public. Courts, government entities, and law enforcement agencies can access sealed criminal records.