Anyone accused of drunk driving should retain an attorney as soon as possible. If you’ve never had any contact with the criminal justice system before, it’s easy to underestimate the severity of a drunk driving arrest. After all, you’re not a criminal – you just had one too many before heading home and mistakenly got behind the wheel.
This type of thinking can (and does) often get people into more trouble than necessary. Driving while under the influence of alcohol (DWI) is a serious criminal offense in Minnesota, and even a first-time offense can result in significant legal consequences. Some of the potential penalties associated with a first-time DUI include the following:
- Community service
- The loss of your driver’s license
- A chemical dependency evaluation
- A $1,000 fine
- 90 days in jail
In addition, if you’re convicted of DWI, you will have an alcohol-related criminal conviction on your record, which can be viewed by anyone with sufficient interest. This means that a DWI can have a significant impact on your life long after any court-ordered sentence has concluded. Some of the areas of life in which a DUI conviction could affect you include the following:
- Employment – According to a recent study, 97 percent of employers perform statewide criminal searches on potential new hires. As a result, a DWI conviction could make it more difficult to get a job. In fact, it could make it nearly impossible to get hired in certain industries. In addition, as Minnesota is an “at-will” employment state, your current employer is well within its rights to fire you after a DUI conviction.
- Education – If you’re considering applying to college or graduate school, it’s important to be aware of the fact that schools have also started asking applicants about their criminal histories. While DWI won’t necessarily prevent you from getting admitted, it certainly won’t improve your chances. If you’re already in school, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’re in the clear. Many colleges and universities have student codes of conduct that prohibit students from engaging in illegal activity, which means that your school could potentially impose sanctions if you are convicted, including probation, the loss of a financial aid package, suspension, or even expulsion.
- Housing – Landlords often perform background checks on people looking to rent from them, and may be hesitant to rent to a person who has been convicted of a crime.
- Professional Licensure – Regulated professions like medicine, law, accounting, and nursing all conduct extensive background checks on individuals applying for professional licenses. In addition, they often require individuals who already hold professional licenses to report any criminal convictions. As a result, a DWI could affect your ability to obtain a professional license in the future or jeopardize one you already hold.
How a Criminal Defense Lawyer in St. Paul Can Help
If you’ve been arrested for drunk driving, it’s easy to feel like you have no choice but to plead guilty. It’s important to remember, however, that an attorney may be able to raise legal defenses that will cast doubt on the prosecution’s case against you should your case go to trial. In fact, in some cases, an attorney may be able to have the case against you dropped entirely. Some of the more common defenses to DUI charges in St. Paul include the following:
- Introducing evidence that the breathalyzer used in your case was not properly calibrated or that the officer who performed the test lack sufficient training to do so, casting doubt on the accuracy of the result.
- Arguing that the initial traffic stop through which law enforcement made contact with you violated your 4th Amendment rights. If the judge agrees that it did, it could result in the exclusion of any evidence that the police gathered during the stop. When these motions are successful, it often results in the dismissal of the case.
- Showing that you have a medical condition that could cause symptoms that resemble the signs of alcohol intoxication. For example, red eyes, slurred speech, and confusion are classic signs of intoxication – but they can also be caused by diabetes.
Even if there are no defenses available in your case, the assistance of a lawyer can often bring your case to a better resolution than you would be able to achieve on your own. In some cases, an experienced criminal defense attorney can negotiate a DWI charge down to a lesser offense that does not carry the penalties and stigma associated with a DWI conviction. For this reason, everyone accused of DWI should talk to an attorney as soon as possible after an arrest.
Call Capitol City Law Group Today to Speak with a St. Paul Criminal Defense Attorney about Your Case
If you’ve been accused of drunk or drugged driving in St. Paul or anywhere else in Minnesota, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in St. Paul, call our office today at 651-998-7643 or send us an email through our online contact form.