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Representing Self for a 3rd Degree DWI - High BAC was the aggravating factor.

Minnetonka, MN |

1st DWI with high BAC. BAC was close to being misdemeanor. I know I will be told it is not smart to represent myself but I have no choice. I financially can not afford a private lawyer. Will I be able to discuss this with the prosecutor before hand to determine what will happen if I do plead guilty? I am not trying to fight this as I know what I did wrong. I would like to minimize penalties. Or is there a way to prolong court until I do have the money in two months to hire a private lawyer?

Hennepin County

Attorney Answers 7


  1. What county are we talking? That help answer your questions.

    Do not rely on this information. This post does not create an attorney client relationship. Please contact me directly to receive formal legal advice regarding your situation.


  2. Yes you can always postpone your court to hire an attorney. They will give you a continuance for that. There are many good attorneys here on AVVO that may be willing to work with you on payments. Just give a couple a call before you decide to go it alone. Do so without delay as there are other time sensitive issues that need to be discussed like license revocation and plate impoundment. Just select "Find a Lawyer" at the top of the page. Good luck.

    This is not intended as legal advice. No attorney / client relationship exists because of this response.


  3. The only penalties that the prosecutor could minimize would be jail time and the level of the charge (the fine is left up to the judge and alcohol assessment is always mandatory). The prosecutor has no power to change the driver's license or plate impoundment penalties, even if your charge is reduced. Many attorneys will consider payment plans and depending on which county you're dealing with, it may be possible to postpone the license and plate penalties while your case is handled by the attorney. Take the time to consult with a few attorneys here on avvo that devote most of our practice to DWI defense and see if something can be worked out. Otherwise, if you decide to still handle this yourself, you will have the opportunity to speak with the prosecutor before you decide what to do. You could also ask for more time to hire a lawyer when you go to court and they Gould continue your case, but keep in mind that your attorney will only have 30 days from the date of arrest to file the challenges to your revocation and plate impoundment to get those penalties postponed if you're in Hennepin or Ramsey County.


  4. Hello. Some attorneys will provide reduced fee for financial need and some will make payment plan arrangements with you. It is possible to request a 'continuance' (postponement of court date) of a reasonable time length as to the criminal case issues.

    TWIN CITIES to ST CLOUD. Do seek legal counsel for your personal legal issues and needs. This post is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. This post is to be considered general information which may or may not apply to your personal situation.


  5. Many lawyers offer payment plans. You should seek counsel. Much is at stake.

    A third degree offense is serious. It is also both criminal and civil in nature. If you do nothing, the license revocation is automatic. You only have thirty days to challenge that revocation. It is entirely separate from the criminal case.

    With regard to the criminal case, a third degree offense is a gross misdemeanor which carries with it maximum possible penalties of ONE year in jail and a $3,000 fine. If convicted, there are also mandatory minimum sentences. That means the least amount of jail time you would serve is likely to be 30 days. Obviously, penalties may be significantly greater. As a result, it is important to present an aggressive defense. It is also important to know and understand the Judge's and their proclivities in your county.

    S indicated, a DWI is not only a criminal case, it has a civil element as well. There is a license revocation related to a DWI that is a case entirely separate from the criminal matter. Nothing in the criminal matter will change the license revocation which occurs automatically unless you seek a judicial review of that revocation. This MUST occur within 30 days after you were ticketed. Any failure to seek a judicial review results in the license revocation and a record that indicates a new alcohol related offense that can be used to make any subsequent DWI a greater crime. In that judicial review, the challenges are the same as those made in the criminal case.

    There are also additional consequences to a conviction including skyrocketing insurance rates, plate impoundments and sometimes vehicle forfeitures.

    There are many challenges to a DWI. The defenses depend on the particular set of facts in each case. That means a detailed review of all evidence, including police reports, police videos, audio recordings and testing records related to blood alcohol levels is imperative. Often, hidden defenses are found through a thorough review of all evidence.

    The fact is that Officers must follow very specific steps as part of the arrest. If any one step is missing, the case may be dismissed.

    Other points of a defense analysis include:

    · Reasonable Suspicion. The officer must have reasonable suspicion to believe a specific crime has been committed in order to stop a person. If that reasonable suspicion is lacking the stop and the ticket may be invalid;

    · Probable Cause to arrest and charge. The officer must make sufficient observations to form a basis for probable cause to believe that you were operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Oftentimes, officers perform field sobriety tests incorrectly making the arrest invalid;

    · Procedures at the Station. The officer must follow very specific procedures at the station including reading and recording an Implied Consent Advisory that informs you that you have a right to a lawyer. If any of the steps are omitted, the charges may be dismissed;

    · Test Procedures. Testing methods to determine blood alcohol concentrations are imperfect at best. Like any scientific method, any test result has a margin of error. If the machinery is not properly maintained and even if it is properly maintained, the test results may vary from true Blood Alcohol Concentration. A sufficient variation may result in a reduce charge or no charge.

    Disclaimer: Nothing in this email message creates an attorney client relationship absent a retainer agreement with this office. Any response to email inquiries should be considered general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. You should always consult a lawyer in your state regarding your specific legal matter.


  6. You state that you're not trying to fight this, but the outcome of your case is often dictated by the strength or weakness of your case. YOu may think you'e up a creek, but DWI is a nuanced area of law with a heck of a lot of case law. Many attorneys will charge an abbreviated fee just to make the discovery request, go over all the reports and videos, and tell you whether you have a challenge or whether you're totally screwed. However, it is important at all costs that you not give up the ghost with the prosecutor. If he sees that, he'll offer you only the standard disposition. Are you likely going to jail? No. Are you going to be facing an arduous probation that could be easily violated that could THEN land you in jail? Yes. Do not fly through DWI land alone. Hire an attorney, even at an abbreviated fee if only to lend his legal expertise to a thorough examination of your file.


  7. You owe it to yourself to at least contact a few attorneys to find out their rates. Many attorneys of many different rates. You may surprise yourself and find someone who is affordable. Also, ask if they can work out a payment plan, or accept credit cards.

    Yes, you should be able to speak with the prosecutor in court. By no means, will you be expected to enter a guilty plea without knowing what the outcome would be. With that being said, I would advise that you consult with an attorney prior to accepting any deal. Although you accept responsibility, there may be one of several defenses to you case. Also, an attorney may be able to negotiate a better resolution to your case.

    Yes, a judge will allow you more time if you let him/her know you are trying to retain an attorney.

    I hope you find this information helpful, and I wish you the best of luck.

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