Minnesota DWI Law has a Fractured History

On Behalf of | Jul 7, 2013 | Uncategorized |

Many individuals are confused by Minnesota DWI law because the history of the law is broken in many ways.

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) has a rather long history.  Think back to the days of the horse and buggy. A person would go into the saloon, have some drinks, come out staggering, mount the wagon, and their horse would pull them home. Surely it was a bit more difficult to steer a horse into a tree than it is a car.

With the invention of the combustion engine came the drunk driver. People were still leaving the saloons, but they had the full responsibility of staying on the road and not hitting pedestrians and other motorists. This is the case today and, since the days when you had to crank your motor to start your car, laws were created to make it illegal to drink alcohol and drive. For a while, it was hard for the courts to determine how much alcohol was too much before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. Eventually, the blood alcohol concentration scale was created and .15 was the legal limit. That is nearly twice the legal limit of most states now.

Eventually, the blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, would be lowered to .10 and would later become the present day .08. If the police can prove a BAC of at least .08 within two hours of driving, then they can enter a DWI charge.

Nonetheless, the invention of the breathalyzer would lead to result challenges that would state a breath test didn’t have the ability to detect how much alcohol a person consumed. In some cases, those individuals were correct. Minnesota has used a number of machines with at least two of those proving to have faulty results.

Then the government had to change the law to cover simple “operation of a motor vehicle.” This happened after the police would find a drunken person behind the wheel of a car. The defendant would argue that they weren’t even driving and, in those cases, they really weren’t. When the defendant argued that they weren’t even operating the vehicle, they were, once again, telling the truth in some cases. That is when the government changed the law to “being in physical control of a motor vehicle.” This means an intoxicated person can be seen driver’s seat of a parked car with the keys in the ignition and be charged with DWI.

At some point there was also the argument posed by some people pulled over by law enforcement that they worked with hazardous chemicals that could be misinterpreted as alcohol. That is when the government passed a law that made it illegal to drive under the influence of any hazardous substance, hence the birth of the DUI. Even sawdust was included on this list, which has since been removed.

In short, DWI has evolved during the past 150 years from drunken people leaving saloons to be pulled home by their horses to people being in physical control of a motor vehicle under the influence of substances they encounter at work every day. The point is that the DWI laws keep getting tougher, but so do the Minneapolis DWI attorneys who defend people who have been accused of driving under the influence of something on the list of hazardous substances.



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