Until they get one, most people don’t know the difference between a standard DWI and DWI test refusal charge in Minnesota. Under Minnesota law, there are many ways that someone could be charged with drunk driving if arrested by the police.
There are three common ways that a drunk driving offense is charged in Minnesota. Often, two or more of these charges will appear on a complaint, but the multiple charges are typically redundant–most matters resolve with only one charge being pursued.
Driving impaired due to alcohol
Each charge requires the prosecutor to prove slightly different facts. The first charge listed above requires the prosecutor to prove any amount of alcohol impaired the defendant’s driving ability. The focus for this charge is typically the driving conduct; the prosecutor must show that some impairment occurred to prosecute the charge.
Blood alcohol content over .08
The second charge requires the prosecutor to prove that the defendant operated a vehicle with a blood alcohol content over 0.08. It’s sort of the reverse of the first charge. Here, no driving impairment is required; however, the main focus of the case is typically showing that the defendant’s blood alcohol level was over 0.08. This is done through a blood, urine, or breath test.
DWI Test Refusal
The third charge occurs when someone refuses a DWI test. If the police have probable cause that a defendant committed a DWI, they can request that a person submit to a DWI blood alcohol content test. If the person refuses, they can be charged with test refusal. DWI test refusal basically allows a police officer to charge someone with a DWI without compelling that person to take a test against their will. In practice, however, it typically relieves the state from showing that a DWI occurred and, instead, merely show that there was a suspected DWI and the person refused. In addition, most penalties for DWI test refusal correspond to offenses in which the defendant had a blood alcohol content over 0.20.
What do about multiple charges
If you are charged with a Minnesota DWI, your best option is usually to get an experienced DWI attorney. The difference between the multiple charges is subtle, and an attorney can make sure that you are able to raise the proper defenses to each of them. In addition, an attorney can advise you about the consequences for each charge and ensure that you make the best decision about how to resolve your case.
If you are charged with a DWI, call St. Paul DWI lawyer Eric Rice for a free consultation at 651-998-9660.