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DWI: When It’s Not Your First Offense

On Behalf of | May 16, 2015 | Firm News |

Every year, more than 30,000 Minnesotans find themselves arrested for the crime of Driving While Intoxicated.  For many of them, it isn’t their first DWI offense.  Repeat DWI offenders face escalating consequences, including jail time, expensive fines, and vehicle forfeiture.  So if you’re someone who finds yourself stopped on suspicion of DWI, and you have a prior DWI conviction on your record, what steps do you need to take to protect yourself? 

  1. Don’t agree to any field sobriety tests without speaking to an attorney.  Although Minnesota law requires drivers arrested on suspicion of DWI to submit to chemical tests within a certain window of time, drivers are not legally obligated to submit to breathalyzer or field sobriety tests before arrest, so if you haven’t yet been arrested, don’t say yes to the test.
  2. Don’t consent to a search of your vehicle unless you are 100 percent certain there is no alcohol or contraband inside of it (and maybe not even then).  Note that this is especially important if the car is not yours, or if you have passengers and do not know whether they’ve brought anything into your car, because you can personally be charged with possession of any contraband in a car that you are driving, even if you don’t own the car or didn’t know the items were in the car.
  3. Do cooperate with police officers, but don’t give a statement or answer any questions without first speaking to your attorney.  While you should provide police officers with your legal name, identification documents (such as your driver’s license and car insurance information), and other basic information like your birthdate, you are not obligated to answer any other questions.  Keep in mind that answering even seemingly innocuous questions about where you were, where you were driving to, and what you were doing before being stopped could harm your case.  Officers and prosecutors may use statements made during a traffic stop against you later on, so it’s in your best interest not to say anything at all without an experienced attorney’s guidance.
  4. Do call your attorney as soon as possible.  Speaking to a Minneapolis DWI Attorney immediately – even before you’re formally arrested, if possible – can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.  Your attorney will be able to advise you on what steps you can take to protect yourself, and will help you navigate what happens before, during, and after your arrest. 
  5. Do choose an attorney with lots of experience defending clients on DWI charges.  Make sure your attorney is someone who has defended clients charged with DWI before, someone with a track record of obtaining successful outcomes for their clients.

If you need help with a DWI charge, contact Matthew T. Martin of the Martin Law Offices for a free case evaluation today.