Misdemeanor DUI & Hit and Run - Maple Grove, MN
Charges: 4th Degree DUI, 4th Degree Over .08, Hit and Run
My client was charged with a 4th Degree Misdemeanor DUI and Misdemeanor DUI with a test result over .08 with testing performed within two hours of driving and Hit and Run in Maple Grove, Minnesota. He was approached by police when his vehicle struck another vehicle in pouring rain causing property damage. My Client left the scene of the accident after making brief contact with the other parties and was subsequently located by officers at his home who believed he was drinking and driving based on witness accounts.
Client was approached by police after he struck another vehicle in pouring rain and left the scene. He felt that it was too dangerous to stop on the busy road in the rain so he drove off to a side road and parked to wait for the other driver. Ultimately he walked home when no one followed him leaving his vehicle on the side street. The police ran his license plate number and responded to his home. Client admitted that he was the driver and explained what had happened. He also admitted to drinking. The officer had him perform some field sobriety tests and after failing the portable breath test he was arrested and transported to jail. At the station the officers read him the implied consent advisory and he complied and tested over .08 with an actual test of .14. He was held in jail and ultimately released on his own recognizance since he was cooperative. He had two prior DUI offenses but none within ten years.
Client was charged with a 4th Degree Misdemeanor offense which is punishable by a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and/or a $1000 fine. In Minnesota DUI offenses are enhanceable offenses. Should you receive two DUI’s or alcohol related license revocations within ten years the 2nd offense is a gross misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine. Three offenses in ten years is also a gross misdemeanor but your vehicle can additionally be forfeited. Four DUI convictions in ten years is a felony. He was also charged with Careless Driving and Leaving the Scene of a Property Damage Accident (Hit and Run). These additionally are misdemeanor offenses because there were no significant injuries.
After reviewing all of the reports it was determined that he was driving his vehicle, had been in a property damage accident, admitted to drinking, had been read the implied consent advisory, consented to a breath test and provided a sample of .14 which is over the legal limit of .08 and was tested within two hours of driving. It was determined that he did not have a defense that warranted challenging the implied consent revocation of his license. Based on the facts it was clear that the officer had a reasonable suspicion to talk to him due to the damaged property. The officer additionally had a reasonable suspicion to believe the Client had been drinking due to his own admission and field testing including a portable breath test.
My client was extremely motivated to resolve the case and felt terrible about causing the collision. Upon my direction my Client acted proactively and dealt with the insurance company to resolve any restitution issues. Restitution can be ordered by the Court if a person or property suffers damage or injury. It is imperative to deal with these issues prior to court if at all possible to show the prosecutor and judge that the victims have been compensated for their loss. My Client was also very worried since this was his third alcohol related incident. I explained to him that he could only be charged with a 4th Degree DUI since his other offenses were outside the ten year window but he could receive more serious consequences (Interlock) from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) since the DPS is not restricted by the ten year window and goes off of an “in the lifetime” formula.
Interlock is a system that allows persons with multiple DUI offenses in a lifetime, or persons that test .16 or above, to drive with a machine installed in their vehicle. The Interlock machine tests their breath before allowing the car to start and then periodically as they drive their car to ensure the driver has zero alcohol while driving.
After researching his issues and carefully reviewing the police report I was concerned since my Client had two prior DUI offenses and there was property damage to the other vehicle. We immediately contacted the insurance company and settled the property damage claim and received proof of payment. Additionally, I advised my Client to get an alcohol assessment prior to court so we could show that he was taking this issue seriously.
Fortunately, I was able to work out a positive resolution where my client was able to plea to the 4th Degree DUI and have all of the other charges dismissed. My client was required to complete an alcohol assessment (which he had already done) and pay a small fine. He did not serve any jail time. He did have to perform some community service and remain law abiding for two years.
By being proactive and having many of the issues addressed (restitution, alcohol assessment, interlock) prior to court convinced the court that my Client was remorseful and had taken the steps to make sure this didn’t happen again.
My client was very pleased with the outcome and appreciative of the resolution. It is imperative to get to know your clients in order to satisfy their needs. It is also critical to deal with issues proactively in an effort to resolve the case effectively and to reinforce to the court that you are remorseful and have taken steps to not repeat the conduct. Most clients have made a poor decision and are very sorry for their conduct. That is commendable but does not reach the root of the issue which is to never repeat the conduct. I always counsel my clients about advance planning before going out for the night. The key to not having a repeat DUI offense is having a plan and sticking with the plan.