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Sleeping it in Off in the Car Can Still Result in a DWI in Minnesota

DWI LAWYER JENNIFER SPEAS PROUDLY SERVES MINNEAPOLIS & ST. PAUL AREA

Most of us have experienced a night out with friends where we imbibed a bit too much alcohol. Hopefully, the outcome was that you had a designated driver or you were able to call for a ride home.

What if you were caught unprepared and had no options available? Most people would probably advise you to do the “smart” thing and sleep it off in the car. Would you be surprised to know that this is not the “smart” thing and that doing this could actually lead to a DWI charge in Minnesota?

That’s right, sleeping in your car could result in you being charged with driving while intoxicated.

HOW CAN THAT BE?

In Minnesota, the law states that if you are found “driving, operating or in physical control” of a motor vehicle, then you can be charged with DWI. If you are in a position that is considered one that makes it easy for you to operate the vehicle, then you are found to be in physical control of that vehicle.

Playing the radio in your car while you are having a beer with your friends and hanging out in your driveway can and has been a reason to charge a person with DWI. The keys are in the ignition, you are in proximity to the vehicle and you are easily able to jump in and drive off. You are in control of it, therefore you can be charged.

BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVEL (BAC)

Obviously, a person needs to be found with a blood alcohol level of .08 or greater to be considered intoxicated. If they are found to be intoxicated, then the charges can be levied. If the vehicle is a commercially registered vehicle, the allowed BAC drops. The operator has to have a level below .04 in order to be considered under the legal limit.

IT’S NOT JUST YOUR CAR…

The law states that you can be charged if you are found operating, driving or in control of a motorized vehicle. This means an engine-powered boat, ATV, motorcycle, moped, snowmobile or even a riding mower. Yep, having a few brews while mowing the yard has the potential to earn you a DWI.

PRECEDENCE

There are cases of individuals being charged with DWI when they have not been operating their vehicles. In one well-known instance, a man was asleep in the car’s passenger seat, keys were not in the ignition, and the motor was cold. When the police officers attempted to start his car it would not start. That man was charged with a DWI, was convicted and is currently serving time after numerous failed appeals to the court.

WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT FOR DUI CONVICTIONS?

For a first time offense, the punishment is typically 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine. Depending on the individual’s history of similar convictions, the jail time and fines can go up exponentially. Loss of license is a definite possibility and a future with an interlock device in your vehicle are very real scenarios.

I’LL JUST REFUSE THE BREATHALYZER

If you think refusing to take the breathalyzer test will save you, think again. Refusing to take the test can result in a criminal charge on its own. In fact, in Minnesota, no warrant is required, and you are obligated to cooperate if the test is administered. If not, be prepared to face a year in jail and a $3000 fine. You could also lose your driver’s license.

A blood test does require a warrant, however, and law enforcement is required to get one prior to administering this test as it can be considered invasive.

I WAS CHARGED, NOW WHAT?

If you were charged with a DWI and were not operating a vehicle, or you are facing any other DWI charge in Minnesota, you will need the best representation available. Contact our offices to find out more about how we can help and to schedule a consultation.

Having the right lawyer to fight your DWI charge is critical to your defense and your future. A DWI or DUI conviction can have long-lasting ramifications on your future.