The Law Behind DWI
Minnesota DWI/DUI cases often involve complicated legal issues that can determine whether a driver will face serious criminal penalties, loss of driving privileges, and even the forfeiture of a vehicle. The attorneys at Olson Defense have the skill and experience needed to analyze the evidence against our clients, determine whether law enforcement violated our client's rights, and bring the appropriate motion to suppress any evidence gathered in violation of our client's rights. Those issues include:
Both the United States Constitution and the Minnesota State Constitution guarantee our right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure. Under the law, this means that police must have a "reasonable, articulable suspicion" to initiate a traffic stop. Oftentimes, police will stop a vehicle for a minor violation of a traffic law, such as speeding. In some cases, Olson Defense's careful review of evidence shows that our client did not actually violate any law. For example, in the case of A.W., police stopped our client's vehicle for failure to display a front license plate. Olson Defense brought a motion to challenge the stop because our client's truck was manufactured in 1972, and Minnesota law only requires vehicles manufactured after 1972 to display a front license plate. Based on this obscure law, Olson Defense's motion led to dismissal of all charges against our client.
Stopping a vehicle for a simple traffic violation like speeding or failing to signal a lane change does not give law enforcement legal justification to investigate the driver for DWI/DUI. Under Minnesota law, the police officer must have independent suspicion to expand the scope of the traffic stop, and that suspicion that the driver is impaired must relate to some observable fact. Minnesota's police officers will often claim that a driver's eyes are bloodshot and watery, that they smelled the odor of alcohol when speaking with a driver, or that the driver admitted to drinking before driving. The attorneys at Olson Defense always carefully review body camera video and other evidence to see if there is an opportunity to challenge law enforcement's claims. For example, in the case of A.S., the police officer's report stated that, when asked how much he drank before driving, our client admitted to drinking "a fifth" of alcohol. Upon review of the bodycam, it was clear that our client told the officer he wanted to plead the fifth, meaning he wanted to exercise his right to remain silent.
An officer must have probable cause to arrest a driver for DWI/DUI and require them to submit to a breath test. An officer has probable cause to arrest a driver for DUI/DWI when the totality of the circumstances would warrant a reasonably prudent man to believe that the driver is impaired. As the term "totality of the circumstances" suggests, this is a fact-intensive question that requires close examination of the evidence. Olson Defense has repeatedly demonstrated to Minnesota judges that police officers acted unreasonably in arresting our clients.
Right to an Attorney:
Many Minnesota drivers wonder why police did not "read them their rights" on the side of the road before or during the arrest. Contrary to the popular understanding encouraged in TV shows and movies, police are not required to give a Miranda warning at the moment of an arrest. Generally speaking, drivers arrested for DWI/DUI have limited rights to contact an attorney immediately before deciding whether to submit to a breath test. Drivers facing that decision should absolutely contact Olson Defense at 952-835-1088 for advice before making that decision. If law enforcement fails to honor a driver's right to an attorney, test results or refusal charges can be dismissed. For example, in the case of C.G., our client expressed a desire to call Olson Defense, but he was not sure if the police department's phonebook would have our number. Instead of giving our client the chance to search for our number, police determined that our client refused to take the test. Ultimately, our office prevailed in having every DWI/DUI charged dismissed in the case and restored our client's driving privileges.
Validity of Test Results:
Many attorneys assume that the State's breath testing machine, called the DataMaster, is a great machine that produces accurate and reliable results. Not the attorneys at Olson Defense. The attorneys at Olson Defense know that the machine rounds up by as much as 0.01 BAC, know that the displayed result is merely a probability, know that operators must be qualified, and know that the machines must be properly calibrated. This expertise has provided our clients with excellent results. For example, in the case of P.R., our client was charged with driving with a BAC of 0.08. Our office requested special records of the test from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and, based on review of those records, demonstrated to the prosecutor that our clients BAC was actually 0.7999. The prosecutor agreed that he could not prove our client was over the legal limit and dismissed all DWI/DUI charges against him.
These legal issues are complicated, and Minnesota drivers interested in beating or reducing the charges against them should seek the representation of attorneys who have the necessary knowledge, experience, and skill to win these cases. The lawyers at Olson Defense have a consistent track record of successfully challenging the evidence against our clients and obtaining complete dismissals of our client's cases. If you or a loved one has been charged with DWI/DUI, do not hesitate to call our office at 952-835-1088 to speak with an attorney with the skill and experience to fight your case.