Minnesota Implied Consent Statute

Minnesota Implied Consent Statute | MN DWI Law

IMPLIED CONSENT

If you have any experience with a Minnesota DWI, you’ve almost certainly heard of the Minnesota Implied Consent statute.  But what exactly is it?  The Minnesota implied consent statute was enacted with the idea of providing law enforcement with an effective tool to compel drivers suspected of DWI to peacefully submit to testing to determine that person’s level of impairment.  If you are arrested in Minnesota for suspicion of DWI, the Minnesota implied consent statute requires that you submit to the arresting officer’s request to test your blood alcohol level.  If the test reveals that your blood alcohol is over the legal limit of .08, your Minnesota driver’s license will be revoked.  The length of the revocation will depend on your test result and the facts of your case.  If you have an out-of-state driver’s license, Minnesota will revoke your ability to drive in the state of Minnesota.

AN ARREST FOR SUSPICION OF DWI MUST BE SUPPORTED BY PROBABLE CAUSE BEFORE AN OFFICER CAN REQUIRE TESTING UNDER THE MINNESOTA IMPLIED CONSENT STATUTE.

Probable cause is determined by a number of factors, most commonly including field sobriety testing, the officer’s observations of driving behavior, the officer’s face-t0-face interaction with the driver, smelling alcohol on the driver’s breath, slurred speech, and bloodshot and watery eyes.  Perhaps surprising to some, an officer does not need to actually witness driving conduct.  An officer can develop probable cause to support a DWI arrest if there is reason to believe the suspected person recently drove, operated, or otherwise physically controlled a motor vehicle.  Obviously, an admission of recent driving behavior will support a DWI arrest, as long as there is probable cause to believe the person is also impaired.

While it may seem like you are being punished if the state revokes your driving privileges, the Minnesota Supreme Court has interpreted the Minnesota implied consent statute to be a remedial act and not “penal” in nature.  Essentially, the ability to drive within the state of Minnesota (and most every other state) is viewed by the courts as a privilege and not a right.  That privilege is conditioned on the driver’s “implied consent” to submit to blood alcohol testing if there is probable cause to support the request.  So, if you want to drive in Minnesota, you must submit to blood alcohol testing if you find yourself under arrest for suspicion of DWI.

YOU MAY BE ASKING – WHAT IF I REFUSE TO TAKE THE BLOOD ALCOHOL TEST?

Refusal to submit to testing is also covered under the Minnesota implied consent statute.  As long as the officer’s request to test your blood alcohol level is supported by probable cause, you don’t have much of a choice.  In fact, you could be charged with a separate crime of refusing to submit, which could be a more severe charge than the DWI charge you may have been facing.

There have been a number of constitutional challenges to the Minnesota implied consent statute, most recently in the highly publicized cases of Missouri v. McNeely and Brooks v. Minnesota.  These cases challenged the state’s ability to enact a law that essentially compelled a person to submit to a search of their person without requiring the state to comply with the warrant requirements of the Fourth Amendment.  The issues and opinions generated by those cases require a separate discussion of their own; for the purpose of this post, it is important to note that the Minnesota implied consent statute is alive and well and has not yet been overturned by our state supreme court.  However, constitutional challenges to the state’s ability to charge someone with a crime for refusing to submit to a warrantless search continue to be fought.

If your Minnesota driving privileges have been revoked under the Minnesota implied consent statute, you do have a right to challenge the constitutionality of the revocation and preserve your driving privileges.  However, you must act fast.  The law requires certain paperwork to be filed with the court within 30 days or so (depending on the method of revocation) or you lose the right to challenge the revocation.

Our experienced Minnesota DWI lawyers can help get your driving privileges reinstated.  If you are facing a license revocation from a DWI arrest, contact our Minneapolis/St. Paul DWI lawyers right away.

Keep Calm and Lawyer Up

Keep Calm and Lawyer Up

Perhaps the most important thing someone can remember to do when they find him or herself in the middle of a police encounter is to keep calm.  Getting into an argument with the police, no matter how right you may be, is not going to do any good.  The police will most likely describe you as being “uncooperative” or “combative.”

Instead, keep calm and lawyer up.  Tell the officers that you would like to have your attorney present for any questioning.  After you have asserted your right to have an attorney present, the police cannot ask you anymore questions and the interrogation must end.

Keep calm and lawyer up.

Anonymous Tip Traffic Stop

Anonymous Tip Traffic Stop | St. Paul Criminal Defense Lawyer

In some cases, you can end up facing a DWI in Minnesota because a fellow motorist called the police to report your driving behavior.  The police may then conduct an anonymous tip traffic stop of your vehicle.  This anonymous tip traffic stop could lead to you consulting a St. Paul criminal defense lawyer.  Whether you are convicted of the DWI will depend on the type of information provided by the tipster.  A judge will look at the information provided by the caller to determine whether the anonymous tip traffic stop was legal.

Police do not always have to personally observe a traffic violation before they can pull you over.  An anonymous tip traffic stop occurs when a private motorist calls police to report concerning driving behavior, and the police act on that tip.  If a private citizen calls the police to report suspicious driving behavior and the caller is willing to give their name and contact information to the police, a judge will most likely find the information provided by the caller sufficiently reliable to justify the anonymous tip traffic stop even if the police officer did not personally observe a traffic violation.  A judge will consider this information reliable because the police can identify the caller and potentially hold him or her liable for providing false information.  The caller does not have to believe the driver is intoxicated in order for the police to be able to stop the vehicle; rather, it is enough if the caller gave his or her name and contact information when they called in the traffic violation.

What about a completely anonymous tip?  If the tip or call comes from a completely anonymous source – if the caller refuses to give his or her name or phone number – then the police probably cannot rely on the tip alone to stop your motor vehicle.  In these cases, the police must locate the suspected motor vehicle and must then personally observe some sort of traffic violation or have other reasons to suspect the driver of criminal activity before lawfully stopping the vehicle.  An experienced Minnesota criminal defense lawyer will most likely be able to have the evidence collected by the police during a truly anonymous tip traffic stop suppressed.

If you think the police did not have a right to pull you over, you need to consult with a Minnesota criminal defense lawyer right away.  The St. Paul criminal defense lawyers at Arechigo & Stokka will review the circumstances surrounding the stop of your vehicle and will advise you whether it was an unlawful stop.  If you are facing a DWI because of an anonymous tip traffic stop, you will absolutely want to consult with a St. Paul criminal defense lawyer at Arechigo & Stokka.  A successful challenge to the lawfulness of the stop of your vehicle can result in getting your test results thrown out of court and your charges dismissed.  Call us today to arrange your free consultation.

Police Approach to a Stopped Vehicle

Police Approach to a Stopped Vehicle

WHETHER YOU NEED A ST. PAUL CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER FOLLOWING A RECENT ARREST MAY DEPEND ON THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE POLICE ENCOUNTER.

Minnesota police officers have a limited right to approach a stopped vehicle in public.  An officer does not seize a driver under the law if the officer approaches an already stopped vehicle and simply asks the driver for his name or looks through the car windows.  As long as the driver and any passengers are still free to leave and the officer does not prevent anyone from leaving, then there is no unlawful seizure.  The police officer has as much of a right to be in public places as the rest of us and is free to speak to whoever he wants to or to look through a vehicle’s windows.

However, a police officer may not approach a stopped vehicle and ask the driver for a driver’s license or ask the driver to step out of the vehicle without a reasonable belief that the vehicle, driver or a passenger was involved in criminal activity.  As a general rule, a driver may be seized for Fourth Amendment purposes when a police officer asks for a driver’s license if, under the circumstances, the driver would not feel free to leave or otherwise ignore the officer’s request.

Finally, police officers can approach a stopped vehicle to conduct a “welfare check to make sure the driver and any passengers do not need medical assistance.  This usually arises in Minnesota DWI cases where an officer observes a driver slumped over the steering wheel and does not respond to the officer knocking on the window.  In these situations, the officer can lawfully open the vehicle’s door or knock out a window to check on the driver’s safety.  If the officer then has a reason to believe the driver is intoxicated, the officer can lawfully arrest the driver and the driver will then face a Minnesota  DWI charge.

THESE ARE GENERAL RULES AND THERE ARE ALWAYS EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE.

Different factors can change a lawful police encounter into an unlawful seizure.  In many cases, police officers will use these observations or interactions in an attempt to develop reasonable suspicion of criminal activity which would give the officer the right to expand the initial observation into a more intrusive stop and/or search.  If an officer approaches your vehicle in public for whatever reason and begins to ask you questions, you are under no obligation to answer anything.  Ask the police officer if you are being detained, and, if not, simply tell the officer you are not going to answer any questions.

If you or someone you know was recently arrested, be sure to contact a St. Paul criminal defense lawyer at Arechigo & Stokka today.

How Long Can Police Detain You

How Long Can Police Detain You | St. Paul Criminal Defense Lawyer

MOST PEOPLE WONDER HOW LONG CAN POLICE DETAIN YOU OR YOUR VEHICLE DURING A TRAFFIC STOP.

The duration of the vehicle stop depends on the initial reason for the traffic stop and any other criminal suspicion that develops after the stop.  As a general rule, the Minnesota Supreme Court has held that the duration of the vehicle stop must be temporary and cannot last any longer than is necessary to investigate the initial reason for the traffic stop.  However, there is no concrete time limit for a lawful length of a traffic stop.

The police need to suspect other criminal activity separate from the reason for the initial traffic stop before they can continue to lawfully detain the vehicle beyond the time it would have taken to write a traffic citation.  For example, in determining how long can police detain you for failing to use a blinker while turning, the officer cannot approach the vehicle and immediately begin asking the driver if there are drugs in the car.  That would be an unlawful expansion of the reason for the traffic stop.  The officer stopped the vehicle for failing to use a blinker, not because the officer suspected there were drugs in the car.  Before the officer can lawfully expand the duration of the traffic stop, the officer would need a separate reason to believe there were drugs in the car.  If the officer, after approaching the vehicle, thought he smelled marijuana in the vehicle then he could question the driver about drugs in the car.  In this situation, the officer could most likely continue to detain the driver as long as the officer acted efficiently to confirm his suspicions of drugs in the car.  How long can police detain you or your vehicle increases with each additional suspicion of criminal activity.

AGAIN, THERE IS NO HARD-AND-FAST TIME LIMIT FOR A LAWFUL TRAFFIC STOP.

The duration of the traffic stop will depend on the facts and circumstances surrounding each individual traffic stop situation.  In one case, the Minnesota Supreme Court has held a 61 minute traffic stop to be lawful under the circumstances of that particular case.

If you find yourself in the middle of a traffic stop, it is important to remember that you DO NOT have to answer any of the officer’s questions.  You have the absolute right to remain silent.  In most cases, it is in your best interests not to answer any questions.  Instead, simply tell the officer that you are not going to answer any questions without your Minnesota criminal defense lawyer present.  After that, call the St. Paul criminal defense lawyers at Arechigo & Stokka.  Our Minnesota criminal defense lawyers will advise you how to handle the situation and tell you what to say, if anything.  If you find yourself arrested or facing criminal charges following your traffic stop, our St. Paul criminal defense lawyers will investigate the reasons behind the initial traffic stop and the officer’s reasons for expanding the length of the stop.  If the officer unlawfully expanded the duration of your traffic stop, our St. Paul criminal defense lawyers will fight to have the evidence suppressed.

Call our Minnesota criminal defense lawyers today if you or someone you know recently faced an expanded traffic stop.

Minnesota Criminal Vehicular Homicide

Minnesota Criminal Vehicular Homicide

CRIMINAL VEHICULAR HOMICIDE

The Minnesota criminal vehicular homicide statute punishes someone who causes the death of another while operating a motor vehicle under one of several conditions.  The criminal vehicular homicide statute, while punishing an action that causes the death of another, is different from murder or manslaughter.  There is a distinction between the intent and the risks the person took in a charge of criminal vehicular homicide versus murder or manslaughter.

A person is guilty of criminal vehicular homicide in Minnesota if the person causes the death of another as a result of operating a motor vehicle in any one of the following conditions:

  1. in a grossly negligent manner;
  2. in a negligent manner while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance;
  3. while having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more;
  4. in a negligent manner while knowingly under the influence of a hazardous substance;
  5. in a negligent manner while any amount of a Schedule I or II controlled substanceother than marijuana, is present in the person’s body
  6. where the driver who caused the collision leaves the scene of the accident; or
  7. where the driver had actual knowledge that a police officer had previously issued a citation to the driver that the vehicle was defectively maintained, the driver knew that the defective condition was not remedied, the driver had reason to know that the defective condition caused a danger to others, and the death was caused by the defective maintenance.

THERE A NUMBER OF CONDITIONS IN WHICH A PERSON COULD FACE A CHARGE OF MINNESOTA CRIMINAL VEHICULAR HOMICIDE.

The most common situation occurs when a drunk driver causes an accident that results in the death of another.  This was most recently highlighted in the Amy Senser case.  This act fits a charge of criminal vehicular homicide in Minnesota under a number of the conditions listed above.

The level of the driver’s culpability will largely depend on the facts of each individual Minnesota criminal vehicular homicide case.  If the driver’s BAC was under .08 and the driver did not previously use a Schedule I or II controlled substance, then the entire set of circumstances that led to the collision and death will need to be vigorously investigated.  Or, if the driver is charged with criminal vehicular homicide in Minnesota because of the presence of a controlled substance, it is an affirmative defense that the driver used the controlled substance according to the terms of a valid prescription.

A DRIVER CHARGED WITH MINNESOTA CRIMINAL VEHICULAR HOMICIDE WILL NEED TO PREPARE A STRONG DEFENSE TO AN ACCUSATION OF GROSS NEGLIGENCE.

Gross negligence will depend on all of the circumstances that led to the collision and resulting death, including time of day, road conditions, traffic conditions, speed of everyone involved, etc.  If convicted, the driver faces a presumptive sentence of at least 48 months in prison.

You will want an experienced lawyer on your side if you are facing a charge of criminal vehicular homicide.  Our St. Paul criminal defense lawyers are familiar with the issues and defenses in a criminal vehicular homicide case.  The lawyers at Arechigo & Stokka will aggressively defend you if you have been charged.

Minnesota Domestic Assault

Minnesota Domestic Assault

THE MINNESOTA DOMESTIC ASSAULT LAW IS FOUND AT MINNESOTA STATUTE 609.2242.

In Minnesota, Domestic Assault can be charged as either a Misdemeanor, Gross Misdemeanor, or Felony.  The severity of a assault charge will depend on the offender’s prior criminal history, if any. Domestic Assault in Minnesota is referred to as an “enhanceable” offense.  This means that the more domestic assault convictions a person has, the more severe new charges become.  And, as you can imagine, increased penalties accompany a more severe charge.

A FIRST-TIME CHARGE OF DOMESTIC ASSAULT WILL TYPICALLY BE TREATED AS A MISDEMEANOR OFFENSE.

However, a person could face a Felony charge of Third Degree Assault if the victim suffered “substantial bodily harm.”  A first-time Misdemeanor charge of domestic assault typically results from an act causing fear of immediate bodily harm in a family or household member or intentionally inflicting or attempting to inflict bodily harm upon a family or household member.  The level of harm inflicted will control the severity level of the charge.  If the victim alleges the accused choked, strangled, or otherwise impeded the victim’s airway during an assault, the accused could end up facing a charge of Minnesota Domestic Assault by Strangulation.  This is a Felony offense and is separate from a charge of domestic assault.

In order to end up facing a charge of Misdemeanor Minnesota Domestic Assault, the alleged victim of the offense must be either a family or household member of the accused’s.  If the victim is not a family or household member, then the accused will most likely end up facing a charge of Fifth Degree Assault (assuming the victim did not suffer substantial bodily harm).  If the current charge of Minnesota Domestic Assault is the accused’s second domestic assault charge – and the accused was convicted of a prior Minnesota Domestic Assault charge within the previous ten years – then the current offense will be charged as a Gross Misdemeanor offense.  If convicted of a second Domestic Assault charge within a ten year period, the offender will face a minimum of 20 days in jail. The penalties can increase depending on the circumstances of each individual Minnesota Domestic Assault case.  Three Minnesota Domestic Assault convictions in a ten year period will result in a Felony conviction and will trigger significant penalties.

A MINNESOTA DOMESTIC ASSAULT CONVICTION ALSO TRIGGERS FIREARM RESTRICTIONS.

If a firearm was used during the commission of the Minnesota Domestic Assault offense, the court may order that the firearm be forfeited.  This means the state would seize the firearm and the offender would no longer own the weapon.  Even if a firearm was not used during the assault, an offender may be prohibited from possessing a firearm for up to three years following a Minnesota Domestic Assault conviction.

A Minnesota Domestic Assault charge is a very serious criminal offense, even if it is a first-time Misdemeanor offense.  If charged with Domestic Assault, you need an experienced Minnesota criminal defense lawyer on your side.  Our St. Paul criminal defense attorneys have successfully handled numerous Domestic Assault cases.  Our aggressive criminal defense lawyers will thoroughly investigate every aspect of the allegations against you and prepare a solid defense.  Contact us today if you or someone you know if facing a Minnesota Domestic Assault charge.

Minnesota First Degree Manslaughter

Minnesota First Degree Manslaughter

MINNESOTA FIRST DEGREE MANSLAUGHTER IS A VERY SERIOUS CHARGE.

A person convicted of First Degree Manslaughter in Minneapolis faces up to 15 years in prison.  Several different circumstances can lead to a charge of First Degree Manslaughter.

Probably the most common set of circumstances that will result in a First Degree Manslaughter charge is what’s known as the “heat of passion” killing.  This occurs when one person causes the death of another when their actions were provoked by words or acts of another that caused the actor to essentially lose control.  A familiar example of this situation:  a person comes home to find his/her spouse in bed with another and irrationally attacks the spouse or the spouse’s lover and the attack results in death.  In this situation, it is unlikely that there was any sort of premeditation or planning by the attacking thought; rather, the act of catching a spouse in bed with a stranger caused a momentary loss of self-control that ended in death.

Other situations that can result in a charge of First Degree Manslaughter include:

  • committing misdemeanor assault with exceptional force and violence that resulted in the death of another;
  • intentionally causing the death of another while acting under the duress of threats made by another to the actor that reasonably caused the actor to fear imminent bodily harm or death of another;
  • selling a controlled substance, the use of which causes death; or,
  • causing the death of a child while engaged in the malicious punishment of that child.

THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CHARGE OF MURDER VERSUS MANSLAUGHTER LIES WITH THE INTENT OF THE ACTOR.

Intent can be tricky to determine.  The initial determination is made by the prosecuting agency as it tries to fairly determine an actor’s intent from the circumstances of the incident.  A charge of First Degree Manslaughter will usually result if the conclusion reached is that the actor acted with intent to harm but not to kill.

AS WITH OTHER BODILY INJURY CRIMES, SELF-DEFENSE MAY APPLY TO SOME CIRCUMSTANCES OF A CHARGE.

The facts and circumstances of each individual particular case will determine whether a defense of self-defense exists.

A charge of Minnesota First Degree Manslaughter requires an experienced Minnesota criminal defense lawyer.  Our St. Paul criminal defense attorneys will help prepare a strong and thorough defense to a Minnesota First Degree Manslaughter charge.  Contact our Minneapolis criminal defense lawyers for a free consultation.

Work Comp Depression

Work Comp Depression

Under Minnesota workers’ compensation law, depression that results from a work injury may be compensable in certain cases. Minnesota workers’ compensation law divides “mental injuries” such as depression into certain categories:

1. Mental Physical Cases:  This occurs when work comp depression produces a physical ailment.  This is likely not a situation where the issue of depression will arise, but some of these claims are  still compensable under Minnesota workers’ compensation law.  It is generally the employee’s burden to prove the physical ailment resulted from work comp depression.

2. Physical/Mental Cases:  In situations where a work-related physical injury cases, aggravates, or leads to a mental injury like depression, that mental injury may be compensable under Minnesota workers’ compensation law.  In these cases, there usually must be some sort of work-related physical injury that leads to work comp depression.  If the employee can prove he or she began suffering from depression as a result of the work-related injury, then the employee may be entitled to additional benefits for work comp depression.

In order to prevail in proving a physical/mental workers’ compensation case involving depression, it is not necessary that the physical injury be the sole cause of the mental injury.  Rather, it is sufficient that the work-related physical injury be a substantial contributing factor to producing the  mental injury.  In these cases, the work comp depression may trigger additional work comp benefits.

Minnesota workers’ compensation courts have not required that a physical injury be of a certain severity in order to prove a companion mental claim.  The workers’ compensation judge will look at each individual case and decide whether there was a work-related physical injury.  Once that determination has been made, any associated work comp depression will likely be covered under Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits as well.

If you were injured at work and believe you are suffering from depression caused by your work injury, it is very important to obtain a medical opinion that ties the psychological condition to the physical effects of the work injury.  Our St. Paul workers’ compensation lawyers will contact your treating physician and seek these opinions on your behalf.  If the doctor agrees, our Minnesota work comp lawyer will fight to get you work comp depression benefits.  Contact us today for a free review of your Minnesota workers’ compensation case.

Search Incident to Arrest Exception

Warrantless Vehicle Searches | Search Incident to Arrest Exception

VEHICLE SEARCHES INCIDENT TO ARREST

As previously discussed, police officers need a search warrant anytime they want to search a motor vehicle.  Warrantless vehicle searches in Minnesota are presumed to be unconstitutional. However, there are several exceptions to this rule.  One exception is known as the search incident to arrest exception.

IN 2009, THE U.S. SUPREME COURT ESTABLISHED A NEW RULE GOVERNING WHEN POLICE CAN SEARCH A MOTOR VEHICLE FOLLOWING THE ARREST OF AN OCCUPANT.

Following a lawful arrest of an occupant of a motor vehicle, police may now search the passenger area of the vehicle if the arrested person is within reaching distance of the passenger area of the vehicle at the time of arrest or if it is reasonable for the police to believe they will find evidence related to the reason for the arrest in the vehicle.  In other words, the police can search the passenger area of the vehicle if the arrested person could possibly access evidence or a dangerous weapon at the time of arrest or if the police believe there is evidence of the reason for the arrest in the vehicle.  It does not matter if it is the driver or a passenger that is arrested.

This search warrant exception also allows the police to search any containers, bags, backpacks, purses, etc. that may be in the vehicle.  An argument can be made that if police are basing the search on their belief that evidence related to the reason for arrest will be found in the vehicle, then the search should be limited to only those containers that could reasonably conceal that evidence.  For example, following a DWI arrest, the police could search containers or bags large enough to hold cans or bottles of alcohol.  But it would probably be unreasonable for the police to open or look into a cigarette pack because it is unlikely alcohol could be concealed in such a container.  If the police found a bag of controlled substances in the cigarette pack, an argument could be made to suppress that evidence as the search was unrelated to the search incident to arrest exception.

THE SEARCH INCIDENT TO ARREST EXCEPTION DOES NOT ALLOW THE POLICE TO SEARCH THE TRUNK OR ENGINE AREA OF THE VEHICLE BECAUSE PRIOR CASELAW HAS DETERMINED THAT THE ENGINE AND TRUNK ARE NOT PART OF THE PASSENGER AREA OF A VEHICLE.

However, if the arrested person happened to be standing near an open trunk at the time of arrest, then the search incident to arrest exception could allow the police to search the trunk because it may be reasonable to believe the arrested person could access evidence or a weapon from the trunk at the time of arrest.

If you feel you may have been unfairly subjected to a warrantless vehicle search, call our Minnesota criminal defense lawyers today.  Our lawyers will review the facts and circumstances surrounding your arrest and warrantless vehicle search and determine whether the search falls under the search incident to arrest exception.  Our Minneapolis/St. Paul criminal defense lawyers will put together an aggressive defense of your case and hold the police accountable for unlawful warrantless vehicle searches and fight to have the evidence suppressed.