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The Three Most Common DWI Defenses

Posted by attorney Max Keller

If you've been charged with a DWI, you're probably wondering any possible DWI defenses exist. After all, the police say you were driving, and they say the results of the test you took measured your BAC at .08 or higher. You may think: what possible DWI defenses could I have? Shouldn't I just plead guilty? No, because you do have defenses. There are a multitude of possible defenses to a DWI, from the unusual and complex to the common and simple. Three of the most common defenses to DWI are:

  1. The police officer illegally stopped your car.

Challenging the stop of your car is a great way to get the charges dismissed in their entirety. If the Judge finds that the police did not have a valid reason to stop your car, then all evidence collected after the stop of your car is suppressed. This evidence includes the test result or any refusal to take a test, along with any statements you may have made to the police. Most police squad cars in the metro area are now equipped with video in their cars. Your DWI defense attorney should request this video. The video may not tell the entire story of the stop, but it's a good starting point.

  1. The police officer did not have probable cause to arrest you.

Typically, an officer will arrest a suspected drunk driver based on (1) the officer's observations of the suspect's driving conduct prior to stopping the vehicle (2) the officer's observations of the suspect when the officer requested the suspect's driver's license and insurance information (3) the officer's evaluation of how the suspect performed on field sobriety tests and (4) the result of the preliminary breath test.

A skilled attorney can challenge the officer's probable cause to arrest you. The police need reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal activity (i.e., that you're drunk) in order to request you (1) perform the field sobriety tests and (2) submit to a preliminary breath test. To do this, you'll need to hire an attorney who is familiar with the requirements of performing field sobriety tests correctly - if the tests can even be administered in a reliable manner (some say the tests are not reliable at all).

3. The police did not honor your right to consult with an attorney before deciding whether to take a test at the police station.

In Minnesota, all drivers suspected of DWI have the right to consult with an attorney before deciding whether to submit to a test. This right attaches AFTER you have been arrested and brought to the station (or a hospital) but BEFORE you actually are required to take a test. The police officer is required to advise you of this right to counsel. If the police officer doesn't advise you of this right, doesn't properly advise you of this right, or doesn't allow you sufficient time to contact an attorney, then your test result can be suppressed. In order to preserve your job and your liberty, you need an aggressive experienced Minnesota DWI Defense Attorney to help you raise these DWI Defenses, and others.

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