Frequently Asked Questions About DWI
Being arrested for DWI in Minnesota can be very frightening given the severe penalties that are possible for conviction. If you find yourself in this troubling position, you will be facing a number of questions concerning your future and what could be at stake. Here are some of common questions that may come up with facing DWI charges.
Q: What is the difference between DWI and DUI?
Q: Will I go to jail?
Q: If the police did not read me my rights, will be case be dismissed?
Q: What is blood alcohol content?
Q: How is BAC measured?
Q: What if I refuse a test?
What is the difference between DWI and DUI?
In most cases, the difference between DWI and DUI comes down to state law. Some states, like California, refer to intoxicated driving charges as DUI charges, which stands for Driving Under the Influence. Other states, such as Minnesota and Texas, largely refer to the charge as DWI, which stands for Driving While Intoxicated. In Minnesota however, both of the terms are used in criminal code but refer to two different types of charges. A person can be charged with DUI, driving under the influence, if he or she had even the slightest traceable amount of alcohol in the blood stream at the time of the arrest. Depending on the circumstances that led to the traffic stop, a police officer may arrest someone for impaired driving, or DUI, even if their BAC was under .08, which is the legal limit. DWI, on the other hand, refers to criminal charges of driving with a BAC of .08 or more, which is considered intoxication rather than impairment.
Will I go to jail?
Depending on the extent of your charge and if you are convicted, you may be facing a minimum of one day in jail. With the help of the right Minneapolis DWI lawyer, you may be able to negotiate a bargain that allows you to serve an alternative sentence.
If the police did not read me my rights, will be case be dismissed?
No. Police officers are not legally required to read you your Miranda rights. The only situation which they would be required to do so is if they plan on charging you with a crime and questioning you about it. However, even in those circumstances, neglecting to notify you of your rights would not warrant dismissal. The purpose of Miranda rights is to caution you of what may ensue if you communicate with law enforcement such as the fact that “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” If a police officer does not read you your rights at the time of the arrest, the most that can happen is that the information you share will not be allowed into the prosecutor’s case against you. While this may seem minor, DWI cases are largely built upon evidence and anything that can be thrown out because of an officer’s mistake may work in your favor.
What is blood alcohol content?
Blood alcohol content is the unit by which law enforcement measures intoxication. It is measured in percentages of alcohol in the bloodstream. It is the concentration of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream, which indicates the measure of intoxication.
How is BAC measured?
Blood alcohol content may be measured a number of ways. The most reliable way to measure BAC is by a blood test. Another way to test BAC is through a Breathalyzer test. Despite the fact that this is the least reliable form of measuring BAC, it is the most frequently used because of its mobility. Breathalyzers are portable tools that police officers carry around on patrols. The individual is asked to breathe into the device, which then reveals an estimate of the person’s blood alcohol content level. The third way to measure BAC is by a urine test, which is also thought of as an accurate, yet often inconvenient, method of testing given the diminishing nature of intoxication.
What if I refuse a test?
Minnesota has an implied consent law, which states that persons who drive are assumed to have consented to chemical testing for the purpose of determining alcohol content level. This is not something that drivers actually agreed to, hence the “implied” consent. The driving privilege in Minnesota comes with the understanding that law enforcement should be allowed to ensure the safety of drivers on the road and testing for BAC is included in that duty. If you refuse a chemical test at a traffic stop, you are thought to be going against your consent, which results in automatic suspension of your license and automatic presumption of guilt. No matter what the situation is, it is advisable that you consent to the test if a police officer asks you. Your attorney will later be able to defend you by challenging the evidence and case brought against you.
If you have further questions about DWI or if you need a Minneapolis criminal defense attorney to defend you against a DWI charge, contact Grostyan & Associates, PLC today to speak with a member of our legal team.