Part 1 - Adding Insult to Injury: Should You Post Bail When You're Charged with a DWI?

Posted On August 31, 2010 by Daniel Koewler

One problem that most people arrested for DWI will quickly encounter is that Minnesota judges think that they are required to set bail in DWI cases. This means that before you are found guilty - sometimes before you even appear in court - the State will require to you pay them for the privilege of being allowed to go home, go back to work, see your family, etc. So much for "innocent until proven guilty!|

Bail in a DWI case can range up to $12,000 (and can reach $100,000 or more in felony DWI cases). This can be an incredible financial burden for the average citizen, which is why you have the option to pay a bail bondsman. A good bail bondsman will charge you about 10% of the bail amount (e.g. if your bail was set at $6,000, you would pay about $600), and allow you to be on your way - as long as you promise to make all future court appearances.

If you don't think you can afford bail, there is a second option that is often made available that appears like a good idea, but is actually far inferior to posting bail. Many judges will set bail, and as an alternative order that you go on |pre-trial monitoring.| This typically means that you are locked into an ankle-bracelet to ensure that you don't use alcohol for the duration of your criminal case. What isn't made clear to you is that you have to pay for the |privilege| of having this ankle bracelet - typically $10 - $15 per day. Thus, after 60 days, you'll have paid at least $600; if your case takes longer than four months (very typical) you will have already |paid| the maximum bail amount of $1,200 . . . and you'll still be wearing that ankle bracelet. And be careful - if the ankle bracelet even thinks you've consumed alcohol, it'll report you, and you'll end up facing an arrest warrant in the near future.

Whenever it is financially possible, we advise all of our clients to post bail rather than shackle themselves to an ankle bracelet. Posting bail is almost always cheaper in the long run, and you don't have to worry about false positive readings or other errors that can put you back in jail.

Of course, being a good attorney doesn't just mean giving advice, it means knowing how to fight for our clients rights. It's always better to convince a judge not to order any bail at all, rather than have to decide between the lesser of two evils. Our next post will discuss some of the arguments we've successfully used in court to make sure that our clients were not saddled with expensive pre-trial bail amounts - the fact that Minnesota's bail statute is unconstitutional, and the added fact that judges incorrectly apply the statute in a vast majority of cases where it doesn't even apply.

Part 2 - Adding Insult to Injury: Why Minnesota's DWI Bail Statute is Unconstitutional.

Part 3 - Adding Insult to Injury: Why Minnesota's DWI Bail Statute Doesn't Apply to Your Case