Alleged aggravating factors associated with a drunk driving arrest can increase the level of charge that authorities may seek under Minnesota law. Generally, people may expect that a prior, or several prior, DWI convictions within the 10-years preceding a new DWI arrest will enhance the new charge to a higher level of offense. But, other aggravating factors may be alleged in enhance a charge–even for a first time offender.
Minnesota law sets the legal limit to drive at 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration. That is essentially the same standard under any U.S. state law in DWI cases. However, Minnesota law allows prosecutors to prosecute a first-time offender with a higher level of offense based allegations that a person measured 0.20 percent BAC or more in a DWI test.
Similarly, allegations of drunk driving with a person under the age of 16 in the vehicle are considered an aggravating facto under the DWI statute.
A recent story out of Dakota County may highlight how alleged aggravating factors may up the ante during a traffic stop. Authorities claim that a 35-year-old Hastings, Minnesota woman was pulled over in Vermillion Township in Dakota County March 20 for allegedly driving erratically and speeding.
The deputy claims that the woman smelled of alcohol and apparently expanded the traffic stop to include a DWI investigation. Authorities claim that the woman admitted to having consumed a margarita at lunch, prior to the 33:30 p.m. traffic stop.
Authorities say that the woman later blew a 0.21 percent BAC reading in a breath test. Authorities also claim that the woman’s 6-year-old child was in the car. She has been charged with second-degree DWI, a gross misdemeanor offense carrying a maximum potential sentence of up to a year in jail. Mandatory minimum sentencing applies in such cases, and other civil proceedings related to licensing and the automobile may be involved in second-degree allegations.
Source: WCCO CBS Minnesota, “Hastings Woman Accused Of Driving Drunk With Child, 6,” May 22, 2013