Hastings man pleads guilty to DWI involving bath salts

In the last post, this blog discussed a recent discussion among Minnesota officials who are urging more clarity in Minnesota’s controlled substance crime laws and DWI laws in relation to so-called “bath salts.” The synthetic substances were added to Minnesota statutes last year and on July 1, prosecutors were first able to charge Minnesotans with DWI related to bath salts. Just three days after the new DWI law went into effect, a Hastings man was arrested on suspicion of DWI in relation to bath salts.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the 47-year-old pled guilty to one count of felony DWI in relation to that offense. It is important to note that the felony level charge was not a function of the substance underlying the allegations, but rather due to enhancements to the DWI charges under the regular DWI and implied consent statutes in Minnesota.

Law enforcement claims the man had previous DUI and DWI convictions on his record on the day of last summer’s arrest. Generally, a person can be charged with a felony level DWI offense based upon three or more prior DWI convictions or DWI related loss of license events within the preceding ten years of a current offense. A single prior felony-level DWI conviction may also be used to enhance a current DWI offense to a felony.

Reports indicate that a blood test showed the presence of an illegal substance that authorities had described as a synthetic substance, commonly referred to as bath salts, which reportedly mimic cocaine, methamphetamine or Ecstasy. The Hastings man apparently entered a plea agreement last week related to the July 3, 2011 allegations.

Sources indicate that the man pled guilty in Dakota County District Court last week to one count of felony DWI and the prosecutor reportedly has agreed to drop three other felony counts and one petty misdemeanor in the case. The Hastings man is scheduled to appear April 6 for sentencing, and reportedly could face up to 3-and-one-half years in prison under the deal.

Source: Pioneer Press, “Hastings: Man with 10 DWIs drove under the influence of ‘bath salts’,” Maricella Miranda, Mar. 5, 2012.

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-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. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

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