DWI and Driving-Related Legal Problems

This is the main page for discussion of Minnesota DWI laws, penalties, defense information, and defense services offered by Minneapolis DWI lawyer Thomas Gallagher, of GALLAGHER CRIMINAL DEFENSE law firm, as well as other driving-related crimes, violations and defenses.  Gallagher has helped people win their Minnesota DWI cases throughout the Twin Cities area, as well as Greater Minnesota, since 1988.

Related pages at this site include:
Minnesota Criminal Vehicular Homicide page
Minnesota Felony DWI page
Breath-Alcohol Machines in Minnesota page
Urine Testing in Minnesota page
Minnesota DWI FAQ page

Drunk Driving Attorney?

We don’t hear “drunk driving” much any more, now that the arbitrary limit in Minnesota for an alcohol concentration test is down to 0.08 (about half the presumptive threshold in the 1970s).  Things have changed.  The penalties for a Minnesota DWI are now severe and typically can cost a person $15,000 or more over a five-year period, “implied consent” license revocation, jail or prison time, a special “whisky” DWI license plate, a car forfeiture, or even a lifetime loss of normal Minnesota drivers’ license (with only a no-alcohol restricted “B-Card” license after years of no license at all).

Need Help with a Minnesota DWI?

Minneapolis DWI Attorney Thomas Gallagher can help.
After DUI arrests, Gallagher helps people fight DUI charges – from DWI first offense charges, second within ten, felony DWI, to criminal vehicular operation and criminal vehicular homicide.

Call Minnesota DWI Lawyer Thomas Gallagher for help: (612) 333-1500.
You can set up a free consultation with one of the best Minnesota DWI Lawyers about your case.

Yes, Minnesota drunk driving laws (Minnesota dwi laws) are harsh, but Minnesota DWI lawyer Gallagher can use his education, skill and experience to work hard to ensure that justice may be done, and that the laws will be enforced fairly, on behalf of the people he represents.  Gallagher strives to be one of the best DUI attorneys in the area.  Thomas Gallagher has been fighting, and winning these cases for over 30 years.

Thomas C Gallagher has been winning these cases in Minnesota courts since 1988, including:

• Minnesota Felony DWI cases (for example, fourth in ten years; presumptive three-year prison sentence).
• Criminal Vehicular Homicide charge cases.
• Criminal Vehicular Operation cases.
• Minnesota Implied Consent law cases (suspended drivers license lawyer).
• Gross Misdemeanor DWI, and mandatory minimum jail term cases.
• Misdemeanor and first time DWI cases.
• DWI – Marijuana cases.

Minnesota DUI Attorney Gallagher has helped people with:

• midnight calls from jail (“should I take the dui test? Urine or blood? Get an Additional Test?”).
• avoid getting charged in the first dui.
• avoid lengthy jail or prison sentences in cases with priors.
• get their drivers license back (and so, keep their jobs), and clean up the drivers license record.
• avoid the special “WX” MN DWI license plates.
• avoid or win back their car and vehicle after police seizure in DWI forfeiture cases.

Gallagher works to use and enforce the laws – criminal and civil; procedural and constitutional – to defend the legal rights of the people he represents, and by extension their families and the liberty and property rights of all the people of Minnesota.

The Deliberate Targeting of Non-impaired drivers by police and the state:
If you are old enough to remember, have you noticed that you rarely hear the term “Drunk Driving” anymore?  Now it’s generally called DWI.  (Driving While Under the Influence, Driving While Impaired, Driving While intoxicated.)  Why is that?

The answer is that Minnesota’s alcohol and driving statutes, like the rest of the United States, have been made broader and broader over the years.  The first “per se” drunk driving statute – which by definition presumes you are “impaired” even when you are not – set the bright line limit at 0.15 because, we were told, that was where driving skills started to become impaired for some people.  What happened to the idea that each individual should be responsible for their own conduct?  And, how is the individual to know they are to be presumed “impaired” (over the arbitrary limit) when in fact they are not impaired and do not feel impaired?  Since the first bright line Per Se law, the threshold for “presumed guilty” (even if sober in fact) has been lowered twice – first to 0.10, and then to 0.08 – about half of the original unfair presumption of guilt-threshold.

Now a 100 pound woman can be a criminal for driving after two glasses of wine – even where there is undisputed proof her driving was not impaired.  In fact the courts of Minnesota have ruled that impairment evidence is irrelevant and can be hidden from a jury – kept out of evidence – if the only claimed violation is of the per se limit threshold (currently 0.08).

About 80% of the people stopped and arrested in these cases in Minnesota have no prior convictions and are reported to be below the original arbitrary limit of 0.15.  Should scarce government resources (tax dollars) be spent on damaging people who are not endangering the public?  While police waste hours, and courts waste days on the first time arrestee with a claimed 0.09 alcohol report, the high BAC, repeat offenders keep driving along, unmolested (due to misdirection of resources on low BAC drivers with no priors).

The laws in this area are irrational, and bad public policy.  A good DWI defense lawyer is essential to help protect yourself and your family from these unfair laws.

Unreliable or Limited Science; and Forensic Science Fraud or Misconduct:
Beyond the predominant targeting of unimpaired drivers, anti-alcohol enforcement and prosecution in Minnesota is fundamentally flawed due to unreliable or limited science, or sometimes even forensic science fraud or misconduct by the state.

ethyl-alcohol molecule

DWI and Driving-Related Legal Problems
Criminal Alcohol-Related Driving Cases:

  • Felony DWI, First Degree Driving While Impaired (Presumptive three years prison)
  • Gross Misdemeanor DWI, Second Degree and Third Degree Driving While Impaired (one year jail maximum)
  • Misdemeanor DWI, Fourth Degree Driving While Impaired (90 days jail maximum)
  • Mandatory Minimum sentencing, staggered sentencing
  • High Claimed Alcohol Level Report Cases (0.16 or more)
  • Dismissal Before Trial Motions

Drivers License Revocation under the Minnesota “Implied Consent” Statute:

  • Driver must serve and file “Petition for Judicial Review” within 60 days or revocation becomes permanent
  • State claims “consent” obtained after driver coerced with threats of criminal prosecution
  • Illegal stop results in clean record
  • Illegal arrest results in driver win
  • Drinking After Driving defense
  • Police failed to observe any driving
  • Not driving, operating or in control
  • Lack of temporal connection between driving and claimed alcohol level “test”
  • Denial of Right to Pre-“test” Legal Counsel results in state losing
  • Police misleading or driver confusion can result in driver win in court
  • Unreliable, inaccurate chemical “test” (breath, urine, blood) results in driver win
  • Police Failure to Vindicate Right to Counsel
  • Police Denial of Right to Additional Test
  • Temporary or early reinstatement of license

Plate Impoundment for alcohol-related driving accusation:

  • Driver must serve and file “Petition for Judicial Review” within 60 days or too late
  • “Whisky plates,” WX plates, XY plates, “special plates,” etc.
Car or Vehicle Forfeiture actions based upon alcohol-related driving accusation:
  • Owner must serve and file “Demand for Judicial Review” within 60 days or too late
  • Owner is sometimes not the driver at time of claimed offense
  • Innocent owner defense, Minnesota DWI forfeiture for innocent spouse
  • Numerous preconditions to forfeiture must exist or the owner gets the car back
  • If the government wins, the police and prosecutor keep the money – incentive to target expensive vehicles
The “B-Card” license case, or Minnesota Statutes §171.19 Petition:
  • Time limited to file court challenge
  • “Canceled and Denied” drivers who later get “no alcohol” restricted “B-Card” licenses
  • Others, who seek a court hearing on license reinstatement