Minnesota DWI Enforcer Leaving

Posted On October 01, 2010 by Charles Ramsay

As we've reported, the Intoxilyzer 5000 breath test machine is being taken out of service in the next few months. The breath test machine is responsible for taking hundreds of thousands of licenses and convicting almost as many of DWI.

Joel Watne, 72, a lawyer with the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General, is also being phased out. This week, Joel retired after 37 years as a lawyer. While Joel may not be personally responsible for as many revocations and convictions, he has an impressive resume.

Joel wrote and lobbied for many of Minnesota's DWI laws. He has logged over 11,700 court appearances, handled over 300 appeals in Minnesota Supreme Court and Court of Appeals and some in federal court, including the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court according to his Linked-In page.

Last week I appeared in a civil implied consent hearing in Dakota County. Joel was my opponent. That battle was Joel's last court appearance.

As a criminal defense attorney, I won't miss Joel. He was always a pain the neck and always gave it his best. Because Joel handled primarily civil implied consent cases, he was not subject to the higher ethical standards of criminal prosecutorsâ?? his duty was not to "do justice| but, like a defense attorney, to zealously pursue his case and do whatever it took to win. He was passionate about keeping our roads safe and used every weapon in his arsenal to win â?? whether I thought it was fair or not.

He was passionate about his work and always brought his A-game. He was a resource for not only the other lawyers in the Attorney General's office, but for peace officers and prosecutors around the state. As a husband and father of two young children, my family is safer because of his efforts. As a tax payer, I recognize the state got its money's worth out of Joel and thank him for his 37 years of service.

I wish Joel the best of luck.