DWI Confusion: How Much is Too Much?

On Behalf of | May 22, 2013 | DUI, DWI |

After drinking a little one night, you see the red and blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror and you worry that you might be in trouble. That’s when you ask yourself if you drank too much to be driving.

There is a lot of confusion behind DWI law. Even the name can be confusing since DUI and DWI are sometimes used interchangeably. Either way, they refer to the laws that prohibit a person from driving a motor vehicle when they have had too much to drink.

But how do you know when you’ve had too much?

The legal limit in Minnesota is .08. This number refers to the concentration of alcohol that is in the urine, the breath, or the blood. The law states that a person cannot safely operate a vehicle if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or above. The law states that this number means that the driver is a danger to the public.

It doesn’t end here, though, because the law says even if you didn’t drink enough to hit that magic number, you can still be charged with a DWI because it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle if the alcohol has impaired your abilities in any way. So if you are pulled over, you blow a .04 on a breath test, but you can’t walk a straight line, you are going to be charged.

In some DWI trials, the jury receives instructions that states the person had too much to drink if they couldn’t control themselves of their mind wasn’t clear. In other words, a person can be convicted if they weren’t themselves after consuming any amount of alcohol.

This creates a standard that is rather tough. It is also a reason why police officers require suspects to say their ABCs, walk a straight line, or stand on one foot. These tests are designed to see if a person has clearness of intellect and control of their body.

Because of these many methods of defining illegal driving conduct, many individuals are surprised to find that suspected DWI can result in three different criminal charges. There is Driving under the influence (DUI), testing at .08 or above within two hours of driving a motor vehicle and driving with a BAC of .08 or higher. A person found guilty of all three will find a DWI on their permanent record.

All of this makes it obvious that drinking and driving is taken very seriously in Minnesota. It is simply a reflection of the public’s sentiment that major efforts should be taken to keep people from driving after they have had enough to drink to impair their judgment and functioning. In the end, however, many of these cases are successfully dismissed with an effective defense in place.

Been Caught Drunk-Driving?

The experienced Minnesota DWI defense lawyers at Meaney & Patrin can help you in this difficult time. No matter what degree of DWI or DUI you are charged with, a criminal defense attorney can develop a strategy for defense that will ultimately lead to the most favorable outcome possible for your individual case. Call us today at 612-688-2299.



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