"Enhancement" of First Time DUI Offenses

Posted On September 28, 2011 by Daniel Koewler

Many drivers are shocked when they learn the consequences of their DUI arrest â?? it is an all-too-common misconception that a "simple| DWI conviction is not a |big deal.|

In Minnesota, even drivers who have no previous DWI arrests may be treated as harshly as those with previous DWI convictions, something that wasn't always the case. How is this possible?

Minnesota's DWI laws permit prosecutors to |enhance| a DUI charge when:

1. A driver's alcohol concentration as measured by blood, breath or urine is .20 or more;

2. A driver is charged with |test refusal|;

3. A child under 16 is in the vehicle;

4. A person is injured (criminal vehicular operation or criminal vehicular homicide);

5. A person has one or more prior |convictions| for DWI (in this state or in another); or,

6. A person has a previous |implied consent| license revocation, (even if they have no previous DWI or DUI conviction.

These |enhancements| apply not only to criminal cases, but to civil license revocations as well. In fact, one harsh aspect of Minnesota's new DWI laws is that drivers with an alcohol concentration of .16 or more (not .20 or more) face a one year license revocation â?? and now no longer have the option of getting a work permit or hardship license.

So, after the shock of being charged with DWI begins to wear off, those same drivers will often ask the next logical question, |Is it worth it to fight the DWI charges?| The answer is that in most cases, it is, particularly where the government is enhancing the charges in the ways described above. No longer is the issue as simple as, |I drank and drove, therefore I must be guilty.| A good defense attorney knows that the government needs to prove more than whether or not you were over the legal limit; the government also has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the specific facts required to enhance the charge. And while it is more than possible to straight up beat the DWI charges against you; it's just as likely that those |enhancing factors| can be beaten as well.