Many drivers in Minnesota understand that charges of driving while impaired are considered enhanceable offenses under state law. A first-time offender may face a fourth-degree DWI charge, if alcohol tests taken within two hours of the alleged drunk driving offense show results falling between 0.08 percent and 0.20 percent alcohol levels.
Second-time DWI offenders generally can face a gross misdemeanor charge if the prior DWI conviction was entered within ten years of the second offense. This blog has previously discussed the ten year look-back period in DWI cases.
Recently, a man was pulled over in Rosemount for allegedly weaving in traffic and then stopping in the middle of the road. Police claim that the driver appeared to have difficulty in concentrating and did not exercise his right to remain silent.
Law enforcement claims that the man admitted to having consumed eight 16-ounce beers earlier in the evening on the night of the stop. Although news reports indicate that the man has not had a prior conviction within ten years of the stop, the man was reportedly arrested on felony DWI charges.
In August 1993, the driver had settled charges of criminal vehicular operation. That criminal record, dating back nearly 19 years, is now reportedly being used to enhance the current allegations in a first-degree DWI complaint. Authorities are apparently relying on the prior CVO conviction to bring the current felony DWI charge.
Minnesota law allows prosecutors to seek a first-degree DWI charge if the driver has been convicted of DWI three times in the past ten years, or has had his or her driver’s license suspended or revoked related to a DWI offense in the past ten years. The state cannot bootstrap a prior DWI revocation and DWI conviction related to the same incident to enhance a current charge.
However, authorities can also seek to enhance a current DWI charge to the felony level based upon a prior felony DWI conviction, regardless of any time frame. It is important to remember that DWI charges are not only serious offenses, but that the law allows for more strict penalties on current charges based solely upon prior conduct.
If you have been arrested for DWI in Minnesota, it is important to consider speaking with an experienced Twin Cities DWI defense attorney as soon as possible to learn what defenses may be available, as the associated DWI loss of license and any potential conviction can not only be serious in the short term, but each can weigh more heavily in any potential future allegations.
Source: WCCO TV Channel 4, “Man Caught Weaving In Rosemount Charged With DWI,” Jan. 19, 2012