Misdemeanor DUI Case Study
Charge: 3rd Degree DUI over .20
In July of 2014 my client was charged with a 3rd Degree Gross Misdemeanor DUI in Champlin, Minnesota. He was brought to jail after testing over .20. He had three prior DUI offenses but all were outside ten years from this incident.
Client was stopped by police after he hit a light pole and bench. The police responded to the disturbance and determined that he was intoxicated and had him do field sobriety tests which he failed. He was very confused, had poor balance and slurred speech. Client was visibly intoxicated and swaying back and forth. The officers placed him under arrest and read him the implied consent advisory. He was given time to consult with and attorney and took a breath test which had a reading of .20. He had three prior offenses outside of the ten year window and since his test was over .20 his charge was enhanced to a 3rd Degree Gross Misdemeanor offense. Enhancement is based on a ten year window with regard to DUI offenses unless there is a substantial bodily injury or death or the person has a prior felony DUI. The maximum penalty for my client was a year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine.
After reviewing all of the reports it was determined that he was driving his vehicle, had hit an object causing property damage, his demeanor and inability to walk and the police report did not provide any meaningful defenses. Based on the facts it was clear that the officer had a reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle and to request alcohol testing.
In an effort to get a favorable resolution it was my recommendation that he get an alcohol assessment as soon as possible and start following the recommendations in an effort to proactively show how serious he was taking the case in an effort to mitigate the consequences. It was also clear that he was suffering emotionally as a result of a recent separation from his wife.
Since my client had taken his alcohol issues proactively I was able to negotiate an amended charge of Misdemeanor 4th Degree DUI instead of the gross misdemeanor 3rd Degree offense. My client was not required to do any additional jail time and fined $300 plus surcharges and law library fees. He was ordered to follow the recommendations of his chemical dependency assessment and was required to do one day of sentence to service (a program where a defendant can do qualified work in lieu of jail) and have no same or similar conduct in the next four years.
By being proactive with his chemical assessment and having my client prepared for his court date I was able to argue to the prosecutor and the judge that additional jail time was not required and his excessive drinking was a relapse situation and brought on by his separation with his wife. Without his commitment to sobriety and his alcohol programs, my arguments would have been hollow.
My client was very incredibly thankful and pleased with the resolution. It provided him a second chance to show this incident was brought on by a relapse situation. Reducing the charge to a misdemeanor with no additional jail was an extremely positive result since it is customary to serve jail time when your alcohol test result is over .20. No matter how bad the facts of the case appear at the beginning there is nearly always a way to present the case in a manner that allows your client to manage the consequences of the incident and have a positive outcome and outlook for the future.