Minneapolis DWI Lawyer
There are two sides to a DWI case – criminal and civil. The criminal side is the more obvious one. A person is ordered to appear in court where he can be convicted of a crime, incarcerated, fined, and placed on supervised probation. Crimes in Minnesota are defined as misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors, and felonies. Minnesota’s DWI offenses include these three levels. A criminal conviction for DWI can affect a person’s employment and other liberties such as the ability to travel/relocate and be free from incarceration. DWI is an enhanceable crime in Minnesota – meaning that a future DWI offense is a more serious crime if a person has a prior DWI incident within 10 years. With respect to felony DWI convictions, enhancement of future offenses lasts a lifetime. Thus, the criminal aspect of a DWI has serious implications.
The second side of a DWI involves the civil penalties imposed by the State. DWI incidents trigger driver’s license revocation, possible whiskey plates (license plate impoundment), and possible vehicle forfeiture. In most cases, the civil penalties arise at the beginning of a case. The State imposes these penalties before there has been any finding of guilt in the criminal case. In essence, a person is deemed guilty of the violations from the outset. Often the civil penalties are more burdensome than the criminal ones. These civil penalties remain in place until and unless a person elects to challenge them within strict time limits.
The civil penalties can be challenged administratively and judicially. Administrative challenges are non-judicial challenges in which an agent of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) makes a determination. Typically, an administrative challenge only will be effective to correct clear errors imposed by DPS. Agents of DPS generally will not reverse a civil penalty based on a constitutional challenge or affirmative defense raised by a claimant. Thus, most people need to challenge a civil penalty judicially to obtain relief. A judicial challenge involves filing a petition or claim in court. There are strict deadlines for filing a judicial challenge. Generally, a claimant has 60 days from the date of the incident to challenge the civil penalties in court.
Jay Carey is well-versed in the intricacies of Minnesota’s DWI laws. The interplay between escalating criminal charges and civil penalties (driver’s license revocation, whiskey plates, and vehicle forfeiture) often require an experienced lawyer to protect one’s interests. Each DWI case has its unique facts, and Jay works hard to achieve results that are in clients’ best interests.
60-Day Time Period to Challenge License Revocation, Whiskey Plates, and Vehicle Forfeiture
Within the first 60 days of arrest for suspected DWI, a driver should take advantage of a free consultation with an experienced DWI lawyer. This short time period arises because most drivers have just 60 days from the date of the incident to challenge the civil penalties of license revocation, whiskey plates, and vehicle forfeiture.
If the 60-day deadline expires, drivers usually have no ability to reverse the serious civil penalties — even if they are innocent and the criminal DWI charges are dismissed. Under normal circumstances, a petition filed after the 60-day deadline will be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction regardless of the merits of the case. Due to this short deadline, it is imperative to learn your rights and options before the deadline expires. Jay Carey can assess whether a judicial challenge is your best option. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Your circumstances and defenses are unique. It takes an experienced DWI lawyer to assess your case and advise you on the proper course of action.
DWI Driver’s License Revocation Enhances Future Penalties
The decision to challenge a DWI license revocation is an important one because it not only affects one’s driving and insurance rates, it will affect the severity level of a future DWI offense occurring within 10 years. In Minnesota a civil DWI license revocation is the rare civil penalty that will enhance future criminal charges. The revocation also will enhance future civil penalties arising from a subsequent DWI incident. No one is planning on getting another DWI, but drivers often are unaware that a DWI criminal conviction is not required to enhance future penalties. For example, a person with a first-time DWI incident who is convicted of Careless Driving in criminal court but who has a DWI license revocation arising from the same incident, will be subject to enhanced criminal and civil penalties in a future DWI incident occurring within 10 years. Ten years is a long time for enhancement. Therefore, the civil license revocation matters greatly. It is not simply a matter of losing one’s driving privileges and paying higher insurance rates.
A second DWI incident within 10 years is a gross misdemeanor offense punishable by up to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine. A second incident triggers a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days to serve and can trigger one or two years of ignition interlock and permanent vehicle forfeiture. Further, a third DWI incident within 10 years is a gross misdemeanor, triggering a 90-day minimum sentence to serve, permanent vehicle forfeiture, and driver’s license cancellation for at least three years. A fourth DWI offense within 10 years is a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.
A DWI lawyer can advise you regarding enhancement of future criminal and civil penalties. Jay Carey would be glad to advise you whether challenging the license revocation is advisable in your case.