With the State Fair knocking on the door, most Twin Cities residents must know that Labor Day is just around the corner. Holiday weekends generally bring out extra patrols throughout the state as police promote a crackdown on drunk driving offenses.
Many people are pulled over each year, on holiday weekends–or on seemingly uneventful days throughout the year—and end up facing driving while impaired charges in Minnesota.
Police must generally have some basis to conduct a so-called routine traffic stop, but the bar is set relatively low under the law what constitutes a reasonable stop. But, even though the bar may seem low, courts are willing to protect constitutional rights when police overreach and conduct an unlawful stop.
As we approach the unofficial end of summer, law enforcement agencies all across Minnesota are already gearing up for the end-of-summer campaign to bring drunk driving charges against people suspected to be impaired by drugs and alcohol while behind the wheel.
Minnesota has a campaign known as Toward Zero Deaths program that aims to address traffic safety issues. That campaign focuses largely on drunk driving issues, but is also seeking to highlight underage drinking in Minnesota. As the TDZ campaign ramps up its end of summer campaign to urge people, both those over and under the age of 21 alike, to not drink and drive, law enforcement agencies are already putting increased DWI patrols on Minnesota roads.
DWI charges may generally be brought based upon a DWI alcohol test reading showing an alcohol level of 0.08 percent or more. But, for drivers under the age of 21, law enforcement may seek underage drinking and driving charges based upon just about any evidence to show that an underage person has been drinking and driving. The 0.08 percent BAC threshold does not apply to underage drinking and driving charges under the so-called “Not a Drop” law in Minnesota.
It is important to note that a criminal charge is not proof of guilt. The state has the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in court. A person accused of an alcohol offense not only has the right to put the state to its burden of proof, but also the right to defend against the state’s allegations.
Source: Owatonna People’s Press, “Steele County authorities begin DWI enforcement campaign,” Al Strain, Aug. 15, 2013