If you’re facing DWI charges in Woodbury, you’re likely wondering about the difference between DWI vs DUI and why you’re being charged with two DWI offenses for the same incident. Allow Ambrose Law to shed some light on these common concerns.
The Difference Explained
In essence, the disparity between DWI vs DUI in Minnesota is more in name than anything else. DWI stands for “Driving While Impaired,” while DUI stands for “Driving Under the Influence.” Although they are essentially interchangeable, Minnesota legally uses DWI as the formal charge. However, DUI is still incorporated into the DWI charging process. This subtle variation carries significant weight in how the State must prove its case for each charge.
Facing Two DWI Charges
When individuals are formally charged with a DWI in Minnesota, it’s common for them to face two separate charges. These charges are: (1) DWI – Under the Influence and (2) DWI – .08 or more alcohol concentration measured within two hours of driving. It may seem perplexing, but there is a reason for this dual charge system, which we’ll now elucidate.
Understanding the Charges
The first charge, driving under the influence, requires the State to prove that the driver was impaired by alcohol or controlled substances. This charge can be substantiated without the need for a formal breath, urine, or blood test that would indicate an alcohol concentration exceeding .08. City prosecutors can even charge individuals with DWI – Under the Influence if the breath test shows a .07, for instance. The evidence used to establish driving under the influence revolves around the circumstances surrounding the DWI incident.
There are three primary pieces of evidence utilized to demonstrate driving under the influence: driving conduct, indicia of impairment, and performance in field sobriety tests. The driving conduct encompasses erratic behavior such as weaving, slow driving, and lane changing without signaling. Indicia of impairment involves subjective observations by arresting officers, such as bloodshot/watery eyes, slurred speech, and alcohol odor. Field sobriety test results also contribute to the evidence. Collectively, these pieces of evidence help the State prove that the driver’s judgment and control were impaired due to alcohol consumption.
On the other hand, the second charge, DWI-.08 or more, relies on the formal breath, urine, or blood test results to establish that the driver’s alcohol concentration exceeded the legal limit of .08. The State does not need to demonstrate actual impairment for this charge, only a test result above the legal limit. Sadly, we have seen cases where clients tested above .08 but were not genuinely impaired, even the morning after a night out. However, the law remains firm – if you’re above the legal limit, driving is prohibited, regardless of actual impairment.
It’s worth noting that the test must be taken within two hours of the last time the person was driving. However, this timeframe is not strictly enforced, as courts have approved tests taken beyond two hours if they can establish the reliability and validity of the results, proving that the driver’s alcohol concentration would have been above .08 within two hours.
The Importance of Legal Representation
Navigating the complexities of DWI charges without professional assistance can have severe consequences. With potential criminal penalties, license suspension, whiskey plates, and even vehicle forfeiture, it’s essential to enlist the help of a DWI attorney (also referred to as a DUI lawyer). By doing so, you give yourself the best chance to protect your rights and seek a favorable outcome in your case.
In conclusion, understanding the nuances between DUI vs DWI in Woodbury is crucial when facing DWI charges. Hiring an experienced attorney like Ambrose Law is your best course of action in such circumstances, given the high stakes involved. Reach out to us today and let us guide you through this challenging legal process.