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Minnesota DWI lawyer, John Arechigo, recently achieved a dismissal of all charges for a client facing multiple 2nd Degree DWI charges in Scott County.  The client was facing a minimum of 90 days in jail.  After a thorough investigation into the case, which included review of several squad video recordings, it became clear that the State lacked sufficient evidence to prove that the client physically controlled a motor vehicle.  After a contested hearing in front of a respected Scott County Judge, the Judge dismissed all charges.


The State can file DWI charges against someone even when there is no evidence the individual ever actually drove a motor vehicle.  Minnesota DWI law allows for DWI charges to be filed under what’s known as the theory of physical control.  Physical control is a term that the courts have defined to refer to a person’s control over a motor vehicle.  The circumstances of a DWI based on physical control must show that the charged individual had access to the motor vehicle and had the ability to operate the vehicle.  The most common type of DWI based on on physical control usually involves a person asleep in a vehicle with the keys either in the ignition, in the vehicle or otherwise in the person’s possession.  Minnesota DWI law allows for DWI charges in these circumstances because it is presumed that the individual has the ability to operate the vehicle, even though he or she may be passed out at the time they are found by the police.  This was how the State attempted to pursue 2nd Degree DWI charges against our client.


The responding officer in this case found our client asleep on the ground next to a running vehicle.  While it may have appeared as though the vehicle belonged to our client, the police officer failed to make that determination prior to arresting our client.  The officer who testified at the hearing on the motion to dismiss was unable to say how long our client had been at the location the client was found, when the client got there, whether the client had been driving, or whether the running vehicle even belonged to our client.  The officer assumed the vehicle was owned by the client and that the client had driven the vehicle.  The officer failed to develop the necessary facts needed to support an arrest for DWI and gather the appropriate evidence needed to support a charge of DWI based on physical control.  The Judge quickly realized the officer lacked sufficient evidence.


This case is a perfect example of why it is a good idea to consult with an experienced Minnesota DWI attorney before making any decisions on your case.  This particular client never planned to hire a DWI attorney on her case.  The client had planned to simply go to court and accept whatever happened.  The client eventually came in for a consultation only after a friend suggested talking to a DWI attorney.

We offer free DWI consultations.  Give us a call.  This client was very happy to have called.

Author Photo John T. Arechigo, Esq.

Attorney John Arechigo has a passion for criminal defense in St. Paul, MN. John received his J.D., from Hamline University School of Law and also carries a Bachelor of Arts from, The University of Minnesota. John was named Attorney of the Year for 2019 by Minnesota Lawyer. Additionally, John was also named as a 2019 Rising Star and was selected to Minnesota Super Lawyers in 2021. He devotes nearly 100% of his practice to defending individuals charged with a crime.

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