A common question from clients who have been charged with driving while impaired (DWI) is “Why did I get charged with multiple counts of DWI for the same incident?” The reason is that in a typical alcohol related DWI case, there are generally two ways for the state to attempt to prove a person guilty. Prosecutors, in their pursuit to obtain a conviction, will generally charge a person with whatever possible DWI offenses fit that person’s conduct. 

As it relates to alcohol related DWI‘s in standard passenger vehicles, Minnesota law makes it a crime for any person to drive, operate, or be in physical control of any motor vehicle if either: 1) the person is under the influence of alcohol; or 2) the person’s alcohol concentration at the time of driving, operating, or being in physical control of the motor vehicle is 0.08 or more.

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In the most common DWI cases where a person is arrested for DWI and subsequently gives a test sample that reveals a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more, it is not at all unusual for them to be charged with both of the offenses noted above.

The difference between the two provisions is that one requires the state to prove that a person had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, while the other does not require that any certain BAC be proven, but rather that a person’s ability to drive a motor vehicle was impaired due to their consumption of alcohol.

The 0.08 legal limit, often called the per se DWI statute, is the BAC at which the legislature has determined that a person is automatically in violation of the state’s DWI laws. Conversely, when a person is accused of being “under the influence,” it is possible to be convicted of DWI even if the person is under the legal limit of 0.08.

The under the influence provision does not mean it is unlawful to drink alcoholic beverages and then drive a motor vehicle. If a person consumes an alcoholic beverage and is not influenced or impaired by the alcohol, there is no violation of the law. However, if, as a result of consuming an alcoholic beverage, the person’s ability or capacity to drive a motor vehicle is impaired, then the law has been violated. Facts such as a person’s driving conduct, appearance, physical abilities and speech patterns can be crucial in defending a person charged under this provision.

All that being said, every single DWI case is unique. There are numerous potential ways to challenge DWI charges and each case has to be looked at closely to determine what possible defenses can be raised. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can explain your options and fight the charges in court.

If you or a loved one are facing DWI charges, call the attorneys at The Law Office of John J. Leunig today for a free consultation at 952-540-6800.

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