Don’t Flee The Police – It’s a Felony

Earlier last week a woman in a western suburb of Minneapolis, Anna Nyenhuis, briefly attempted to evade police with her young daughter in the vehicle. Ms. Nyenhuis has been charged with Felony Fleeing Police in a Motor Vehicle and Gross-Misdemeanor DWI.

The police officer attempted to stop Ms. Nyenhuis when he pulled up behind her vehicle and noticed that the license plates on her vehicle were expired. Ms. Nyenhuis pulled over in a business’ parking lot. When the officer stepped up to Ms. Hyenhuis’ window, she informed the officer that she did not have a driver’s license or the vehicle’s registration. The officer instructed Ms. Nyenhuis to stay in her vehicle and the officer returned to his squad car. Ms. Nyenhuis then drove away. After the officer pursued Ms. Hyenhuis for roughly 1 ΒΌ miles, Ms. Nyenhuis pulled over where she was arrested. Ms. Nyenhuis’ minor child was in the car with her. Ms. Nyenhuis took a preliminary breath test, which measured her blood alcohol content at 0.144.

A person may be charged in Minnesota with Fleeing a Police Officer in a Motor Vehicle, a Felony, if the person does any of the following in an attempt to evade police after the officer signals the driver to stop:

  • Increases their speed;
  • Turns off their headlights or taillights;
  • Fails to stop; or
  • Uses other means to evade police.

The penalty in Minnesota for Fleeing a Police Officer in a Motor Vehicle is up to 3 years and 1 day in jail, as well as a fine of up to $5,000.

In addition, Minnesota may charge a person with DWI for driving, operating, or being in physical control of a vehicle when:

  • They are under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or a hazardous substance that affects the nervous system, brain, or muscles so as to substantially impair the person’s ability to drive or operate the vehicle; and or
  • They have an alcohol concentration of .08 or more within 2 hours of driving, operating, or being in physical control of a vehicle.

Depending on the circumstances, a DWI may be charged as a Misdemeanor, Gross Misdemeanor, or Felony. Factors that are considered for enhancing and determining the degree of DWI that you may be charged with include:

  • Previous convictions for DWI;
  • Previous alcohol related driver’s license revocations;
  • Motor vehicle accident(s) and or injuries connected with the alleged DWI incident;
  • Minor(s) in the vehicle; and or
  • High blood alcohol concentration.

The severity of the penalties for depends on the degree for which you are charged. However, the penalties for DWI include jail, a fine, forfeiture of your vehicle, loss of your driver’s license, increased insurance costs, and other hidden costs. It is important to remember that you only have limited time to contest the forfeiture of your vehicle and the revocation of your driver’s license.

What does this mean for you?

If you are driving your car and a police officer signals you, whether by lights and sirens or otherwise, you should pull over. Taking action to evade the police may result in a felony charge for Fleeing a Police Officer in a Motor Vehicle, which would be in addition to whatever other charges you may be facing, such as DWI. Fleeing police and DWI are serious charges. However, when there are additional factors, such as a minor child in the vehicle, a high blood alcohol contraction, etc., the complexity of the situation is compounded and the penalties are often enhanced.

Fleeing the police in a motor vehicle and DWI have serious consequences and require experienced representation. If you think you might be charged or you have been charged with Fleeing a Police Officer and or DWI, contact an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney for a free consultation. The time that you have to contest the revocation of your license and the forfeiture of your motor vehicle is limited. You need an experienced attorney fighting to protect you.