Like most states, Minnesota faces issues regarding how to deal with repeat DWI offenders. A recent case in Washington County highlights some of the flaws in Minnesota’s current system.
On August 22, 2010, Edward Jaworski, a 38 year old father of two, crashed his Jeep into the back of a Pontiac Sedan. The Sedan was carrying three teenagers. Jaworski was estimated to be traveling approximately 80 miles per hour, and his blood alcohol content was 0.24, three times the legal limit. Jaworski was charged with three counts of criminal vehicular operation, one count of DWI, and one count of driving after cancellation.
As a result of the crash, all three teenage victims have suffered permanent injuries. One teenager had to drop out of high school due to the injuries, while another is taking a reduced course load.
At the time of the accident, Jaworski had been charged with a DWI only two months earlier, in June of 2010. His charges from the June incident were still pending at the time of the accident in August, but he was not being held in custody. Following the August 22, 2010 accident but prior to sentencing, Jaworski was charged with another DWI for refusing to submit to a chemical test. Jaworski had also been convicted of a DWI in 2001 and DWI – test refusal in 1999.
Stemming from the five charges in the August 22, 2010 accident, Jaworski faced up to 66 months in prison. Washington County Judge Susan Miles sentenced Jaworski to 39 months in prison for the criminal vehicular operation. Jaworski was also sentenced to 365 days in Washington County Jail, to be served consecutively to (i.e., following) his 39 month prison sentence. Back in March of 2011, Judge Miles also sentenced Jaworski for his DWI that occurred in June of 2010, prior to the accident harming the three teenagers.
Over the years, Minnesota has attempted a number of measures to lower incidents of drunk driving and the tragic accidents, like this one, that occur when individuals drive drunk. These measures attempted by the State have included harsher penalties for repeat offenders, mandatory minimums on jail time for repeat offenders, taking away a repeat offender’s license plates, statutes allowing the State to take the motor vehicle used to commit a DWI (i.e. vehicle forfeiture), and longer license revocation periods.
Starting July 1, 2011, Minnesota is attempting another new measure aimed at decreasing the likelihood of a DWI offender committing a subsequent offense by requiring that certain individuals charged with DWI place a device on their vehicle that measures blood alcohol content. In certain cases, these devices must be placed on the vehicle if an individual wants to drive while their case is being contested in court – even though the individual has not even been convicted yet. This device, called an ignition interlock device, will cost the individual hundreds of dollars in installation, maintenance, and removal.
The ignition interlock device will require the individual to blow into the device and register a blood alcohol content below .02 in order for the vehicle to start. Additionally, while the individual is driving, he or she will have to provide “rolling tests” approximately every 7 minutes. These tests must register below .02, or the individual will have a test failure reported to the agency supervising them on release.
Hypothetically, the individual could blow into the ignition interlock device while stopped at a stop light. But if the individual is traveling on an interstate and does not have an opportunity to stop, he or she will have to blow into the ignition interlock device while driving or face the consequences of not providing a timely breath sample.
Ideally, the ignition interlock device will prevent the type of tragic accident that occurred in Washington County. But with all of the pratfalls and shortcomings in the ignition interlock device, that resolution is far from a certainty.
If you need an experienced attorney to defend you against criminal vehicular operation charges or a repeat DWI offense, contact an attorney with experience defending felonies and repeat DWI offenses. Contact Max. A. Keller today in order to discuss your case.