Experienced defense attorneys know that no two DWI cases are the same. Each case is different and involves numerous circumstances. But while every DWI case is different in its nuances; the elements required for the state to obtain a DWI conviction remain the same. What are they and why do they matter to you? That's what we're going to talk about today.
Before we get into the specific elements of a DWI, let's talk about why they matter. Simply put, in order for the State to prove an individual is guilty of DWI, it must prove each element of DWI in Minnesota. Each element is of equal importance and the State cannot obtain a conviction unless each of these elements is proven.
So what are these elements? They are:
* Defendant drove, operated or physically controlled a motor vehicle on the roadways or boundary waters of the State of Minnesota;
* Defendant was driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance;
* Defendant was driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more as tested within two hours of operating a motor vehicle.
The State must prove each of these elements of a DWI in Minnesota to gain a conviction.
Degrees of DWI
Many people confuse the elements of a DWI with the degrees of DWI. There are four degrees of DWI and they relate to the seriousness of the charge. Fourth degree DWI, for example is a misdemeanor while first degree DWI is a felony. Second and third degree DWI crimes are charged as gross misdemeanors.
Factors such as BAC, previous DWIs on record, the age of passengers in the vehicle and the location of the incident can all play into determining the degree of DWI for each case.
In order to obtain a DWI conviction, at any degree, the State must prove each of the three elements we previously discussed. This applies to all DWI cases, not just first or second degree DWIs.
If the state is able to prove all three elements exist, a conviction is likely. The sentencing will then reflect the degree of DWI, as well as any prior DWI convictions or aggravating factors.
If the state is successful in proving all three elements of a DWI conviction, the presence of aggravating factors could increase the degree of DWI and thus, the severity of the sentence.
Aggravating factors include:
* Driving with a BAC over.20;
* Driving under the influence with someone under the age of 16 in the vehicle;
* Driving a vehicle across a railroad stop arm while under the influence;
* Having a prior alcohol-related offense on your record within the last 10 years; and
* Any prior alcohol-related driver's license revocation.
Applicable to more than just cars
Many people mistakenly believe that DWI applies solely to individuals caught driving an automobile while intoxicated. This is not the case. Individuals over the legal limit who are pulled over while operating a boat, snowmobile or four-wheeler also run the risk of facing DWI charges.
If you are facing charges related to the elements of DWI in Minnesota, you need experienced legal counsel. Contact Attorney Eric J. Olson for vigorous defense and unrivaled results.