A judge has sentenced a Hastings man to five years in state prison on a felony conviction for driving while impaired. Last summer, Minnesota state law addressed so-called “bath salts” in the state’s DWI statutes.
The Hastings man reportedly told law enforcement after a traffic stop near Rosemount that he was under the influence of bath salts and the man was subsequently arrested for felony DWI. News reports now indicate that the man actually tested positive for the presence of cocaine and methamphetamine. Controlled substances have long been covered under Minnesota’s implied consent and DWI statutes.
The nature of the alleged substance, however, is not the basis for the felony charges filed against the Hastings man. DWI offenses in Minnesota can be elevated to the felony level for a number of reasons, including alleged prior DWI convictions.
Minnesota DWI laws look back ten years for prior DWI convictions or other qualified impaired driving incidents, which include prior DWI license revocations. Those prior incidents can be used to enhance a current charge to a felony. Generally, three prior DWI convictions in the past ten years is sufficient for authorities to seek a felony DWI charge, as this blog has previously discussed.
It is important to note that a prior felony DWI conviction is not subject to the general ten year look back period, and can be used alone to enhance a current allege offense to a felony.
Dakota County prosecutors say the Hastings man had a prior felony DWI conviction from 2005, for which the media says the man was incarcerated for a year. News reports also say that the man had a total of ten prior DWI convictions, but the media generally does not indicate the timing of those prior convictions.
The Hastings man reportedly pled guilty to the felony DWI charge and recently faced sentencing in Dakota County. Prosecutors asked the judge to impose a five year prison sentence for the conviction and the judge reportedly agreed.
Source: My Fox Twin Cities, “Man Sentenced to 5 Years for 11th DWI,” April 8, 2012