DUI vs. DWI

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According to statistics reported by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, 24,862 drivers were slapped with DWIs, which comes to an average of about 68 DWIs every day.

Driving under the influence, driving while intoxicated, same thing, right? Not quite, though it makes sense to think so. Both DUIs and DWIs refer to the same drunk driving offense in the state of Minnesota, but the real difference lies in the requirements for each charge to stick.

DWI
A DWI, or driving while intoxicated charge, means that the driver had a BAC level (blood alcohol concentration) above 0.08. As long as the BAC has been proven, it doesn’t matter if the driver of the vehicle was showing signs of drunk driving.

Most DWIs are misdemeanors that end in fines and a driving suspension, unless there are other aggravating factors such as criminal history, property damage, driving with a minor at the time of the arrest, and the severity of inebriation.

DUI
A DUI is less specific. Driving under the influence charges simply mean that the driver was impaired by alcohol while behind the wheel- it doesn’t matter what the BAC level was, as long as it can be proven that the driver was under the influence of alcohol. However, this charge is generally more difficult to prove than a DWI.

Usually, DUI will be considered either a misdemeanor, felony, or gross misdemeanor, depending on the situation and if aggravating factors were present.

What’s the Difference in Minnesota?
In Minnesota, a DWI is defined as:

  • Driving or controlling a motor vehicle while under the influence of either alcohol, a controlled substance, or a hazardous substance.
  • The results of a blood, chemical breath, or urine test revealing a blood alcohol content level above 0.08
  • The results of a blood, chemical breath, or urine test showing certain controlled substances in the individual’s system. It doesn’t matter the amount present.

To make a DUI arrest, officers must look for physical signs of drunk driving before they can pull you over, such as:

  • Speeding
  • Swerving
  • Heading in the wrong direction on a one-way street
  • Driving without headlights on at night
  • Hugging lines on the road
  • Driving too slow
  • Sudden braking
  • Tailgating

Will I Go to Jail?
In Minnesota, your first DUI or DWI charge will be considered a fourth-degree misdemeanor. The maximum punishment is a $1,000 fine and spending ninety days in jail, but most first-time offenders don’t get the maximum penalty. Still, the license will be suspended for ninety days and there will be a misdemeanor on the individual’s permanent record, which will appear on background checks for ten years.

If the court finds it necessary, then punishments like community service, probation, paying for a chemical dependency evaluation, and alcohol restrictions can be applied as well.

If the individual already has a history of DUI or DWI charges, then the bail can be set to a maximum of $12,000 in Minnesota.

In addition, having either of these charges on your record can affect employment opportunities. Employers can decide to suspend or even terminate you for getting a DWI or DUI depending on the situation.

If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, contact us for a free consultation. We can help you combat injustices such as inaccurate test results or wrongful arrests, and negotiate on your behalf.

looking at the back of a police man wearing a hat and uniform looking at the street

Stopped On The Street By Police: What To Do

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Law enforcement must have a warrant or probable cause to search you, but not to stop and question you. Being approached by an authority official can be intimidating, especially if you don’t know what is required of you by law, and what isn’t. Let’s break it down.

Why Am I Being Stopped?
One reason the police may stop to talk to you is if they have a warrant for your arrest or a search warrant. However, being stopped doesn’t always mean you’re in trouble. An officer may try to talk to you if:

  • You have witnessed an event that is being investigated, which is called a “Terry Stop”.
  • You match a suspect description. The officer will want to determine whether or not you are who he or she is looking for.
  • You are the victim of a crime. Law officials will want to question you in order to get the perpetrator off the streets as soon as possible.

If you are in your car when law enforcement approaches you, there must be probable cause, which means that there has to be a factual, unbiased reason for them to suspect a crime is being committed. For example, an officer can’t pull you over for something silly like having a marijuana bumper sticker or playing music about disliking the police. However, if there is something illegal in plain sight such as reckless driving, an expired inspection sticker, or if the vehicle you are driving has been reported stolen, the police have the right to pull you over.

Can I Walk Away?
Ask if you are under arrest. Unless you’re being detained, you have the right to walk away calmly. If you run, it could be considered probable suspicion, which is less than probable cause, but enough to reasonably suspect that something is amiss.

Remember, unless you are under arrest, it is illegal for a police officer to force you to speak, or to search you or your property without either your consent or a search warrant. It’s important to be clear and say “I do not consent to be searched” and or, “I wish to remain silent.”

Do I Have To Provide ID?
According to Minnesota law, the police are not allowed to ask for ID unless they suspect you of committing a crime. However, it’s generally a good idea to comply.

  • If you look like a wanted suspect in a case, providing identification will help you avoid being confused with a criminal.
  • If an officer suspects that you are trespassing, showing your state ID or drivers’ license is a way to confirm that you either live on the property or have another reason to be there.
  • When the police only have a vague suspect description from witnesses to work with, it can be tough for them to know exactly who they’re looking for. Giving your ID not only tells them who you are, but it also shows that you have nothing to hide.

When reaching for identification, do so slowly and calmly.

What If I’m Arrested?
Being arrested is scary regardless of whether or not you’re innocent, but it’s important not to let your nerves get the best of you.

  • Be respectful and compliant.
  • Do not yell, argue, curse, resist, or touch the police officer.
  • Pay attention to names and badge numbers.
  • Ask for a lawyer.
  • Do not answer any questions about your case until your attorney is present.

It’s a good idea to memorize your lawyer’s phone number just in case. While in custody, you can’t use your own cell phone.

If you were stopped or arrested by law enforcement and feel that your civil rights have been violated, contact us ASAP for a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney and a plan of action.

 

man in tan suit holding a landline phone yelling into it

I Received A Complaint From My professional Licensing Board – Now What?!?

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All licensed professionals fall prey to a disgruntled client or patient filing a complaint against them with their licensing board. Oftentimes, these complaints are meritless. However, sometimes mistakes have been made that give rise to possible ethical violations or violations of the terms of a professional’s license. Regardless of the motive or the reality of the complaint, each licensing Board takes all complaints very seriously, as they should. As professionals, we play an important role in the lives of those who trust us to help them. We owe a heightened duty to each person we help, professionally. Thus, it is important that we adhere to the licensing standards and requirements in everything that we do.

Even the best, most ethical and skilled professionals make mistakes. Whether it be due to addiction, substance abuse, mental health issues, financial difficulties, when a professional falls below the standards required of him or her, the repercussions can be career ending if not handled appropriately from the start. Do not try to represent yourself. You need a strong, respected and experienced attorney familiar with your licensing Board and their rules in order to minimize then negative impact on your chosen profession. Do not be embarrassed, at Naros Law, we do not judge, we recognize that everyone can make a mistake, and we work with you to support you to help make whatever changes are necessary to get you and your professional practice back on track.

Kris Naros has nearly thirty (30) years of successful experience representing licensed professionals before their licensing Boards, one of only a small number of attorneys in Minnesota handling such cases. Kris’ experience with these licensing boards has garnered her great respect of the professional licensing boards’ complaint committees. They know she will be honest with them while doing everything in her power to save the career and reputation of her professional clients. They know she means business. She will work with you in a caring, compassionate manner, guiding you to make whatever changes are needed to address any issues and keep your license intact so you will not lose your practice and career that you have worked hard to build.

If you receive a complaint from your professional licensing board, it is important to reach out for the best legal representation immediately. Do not wait and do not respond on your own without first consulting Kris Naros.

lawyer sitting at desk with gold scales of justice statue

Top 10 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Lawyer

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Often times the decision to hire a lawyer is an easy one. Maybe you have been served, are looking at getting a divorce, or you have been charged with a crime; these instances typically need a lawyer. However, lawyers are not just for litigation or crimes, they can also give clients and potential clients advice and helpful information regarding different instances and cases. Lawyers can also help protect you from potential hardships, and an excellent lawyer can help those that have already gotten themselves into trouble.

It is important to hire someone you know will have your back at the end of the day — someone who can protect you financially and emotionally in the best way possible. In order to help you get the best lawyer for your needs, we have put together a comprehensive list of questions to ask before you decide to hire a lawyer.

  1. WHAT WILL IT COST?

This question is something that you need answered upfront as taking legal action can become quite expensive. You should know how much your lawyer will charge you for representation before they start working on your case. Every lawyer is different and so are the cases at hand. For some cases, costs can be a fixed amount, while others may be billed at an hourly rate. Many times, lawyers cannot predict the total cost as there are many variables involved, but an hourly rate can give you a good idea of the potential price tag. Another example may be that a lawyer will represent you for a “contingency fee.” This means that they will get paid a portion of what you get after winning a trial or getting a settlement. Whatever pricing methods the lawyer uses, make sure you discuss these expenses and attorney fees before moving forward.

  1. HOW LONG HAVE YOU PRACTICED LAW?

At the very least, you should know the lawyer’s competence and if they are a novice or a seasoned professional. Your legal issue may need someone with years of experience, or it could be simple, and it may very well be handled by someone who is not as experienced.

  1. DO I HAVE TO GO TO COURT?

Often times you can come to a conclusion outside of the courtroom. Sometimes cases can be closed through means of arbitration, negotiation, or mediation. A good attorney will typically let you know if your case can be handled through a more inexpensive and accelerated manner.

  1. HAVE YOU HANDLED CASES LIKE MINE?

Many times, this question is not asked, but it is an important one. Let’s say that you are involved in a DUI defense case, but the lawyer you are meeting with has represented those only involved in malpractice. This may not be the best lawyer for you, as this is not in their area of expertise. An attorney who has the appropriate background for handing your case will most likely be the one who will give you the best possible outcome while also saving you time and money.

  1. WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL CLIENT LOOK LIKE?

This question usually goes along with the previous question. You should know what kind of cases a lawyer handles, but you should also know what their clientele usually looks like. Ask about the financial background of the lawyer’s past client. Do they typically work with only high-income individuals or do they also represent low-income individuals or even college students? They may work with you on rates depending on your financial background.

  1. WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH TO WINNING A CASE?

Depending on the type of lawyer you want for your case, this is an important answer to know. Do you need an attorney who will be aggressive in your case or do you want to solve it amicably? A lawyer should outline how they will go about handling your case, while also explaining why they have chosen this strategy.

  1. WHAT IS THE POSSIBLE OUTCOME FOR MY CASE?

Although lawyers cannot predict the future, and they cannot guarantee you an absolute outcome, they can however give you an honest opinion of how your case may unfold. This can give you an idea of what direction you can take moving forward.

  1. HOW LONG WILL THE CASE TAKE?

Any experienced lawyer should be able to give you an estimated timeline of how long it will take for you to get a verdict on your case. Again, a lawyer cannot foresee what will happen in the future, and they cannot control the speed of the process, but they can give you an idea of when it be done and over with.

  1. HOW WILL WE COMMUNICATE?

This is also an important question to ask, as you should be able to get in touch with your lawyer if you do have any further questions or if you have any pertinent information to exchange. You should also feel comfortable enough with your lawyer that you can have regular communication with them if you need. Make sure that you have all the necessary information to contact your lawyer, and that you both come to an agreement on how you will be able to communicate during your case.

  1. WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO PREPARE?

Sometimes you may just need to provide some documents or other information regarding you or the case. Usually, you will also be advised to not speak to anyone else involved in the case, including witnesses during this time. It is important to understand your part and what you can do or what you can provide the lawyer to help win your case.

 

handcuffs sitting on top of a fingerprint sheet

Stressed and Under Arrest: What To Do

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When scared or unsure of what to do or expect, it can bring out the worst in us. That’s why we’re giving you a crash course about your rights and how you should behave for the best possible outcome if you’ve been arrested. If you take anything from this article, it’s to always remain calm and call an experienced criminal defense lawyer! Do whatever you can to keep a level head, be polite and do not physically resist the police. Keep your hands in plain sight and immediately inform the police if you have a permit to carry a firearm and have one on or near you.

Rights You Should Know

  • Everyone has the right to an attorney in criminal cases, no matter what the circumstances are.
  • Have you ever heard the phrase, “anything you say can and will be held against you” on TV? It’s true. If you say anything that could possibly incriminate you, it WILL be used against you in court. One of the most important rights to understand is your right to remain silent. It is crucial that you exercise this right – be quiet. Respectfully decline to make any statements and request to speak with your lawyer. In most cases, it’s best not to speak or answer any questions until your attorney is present so you can avoid accidentally hurting your case.
  • You have the right to know what you are charged with. It is illegal for the police to make an arrest without informing the individual for what crime he or she is being arrested. If you haven’t been told, politely ask what you are being charged with, but do not engage in an argument.
  • You have a right to know your legal rights. These are called your Miranda Rights, and it is illegal to be interrogated (questioned) without hearing them. In fact, an entire case can be thrown away if the individual was not read the Miranda Rights. They are designed to make sure that people are aware of what they do and don’t have to do when under arrest.

How to Act and What to Do

  • Be respectful and obedient with the police. Do not touch, or try to touch, officers in any way whatsoever. This can be perceived as aggressive behavior.
  • Pay attention to badge and patrol car numbers; try to remember them if possible. This information can help determine if the officer was supposed to be on duty and identify the officials you interacted with.
  • Do not answer any questions about your case unless your lawyer is present to avoid accidentally incriminating yourself- even if you are innocent. That applies to cellmates and telephone calls, too, if you are put in jail. Cellmates often tell on you and all phone calls made from jail are listened in on and recorded. Do not discuss the facts of your case with anyone but your lawyer.
  • If you’ve been hurt in the course of your arrest, take pictures to use as evidence and seek medical help as soon as possible. Depending on what caused the injury, you may be entitled to compensation.
  • Do not resist arrest. Doing this can add charges such as assault, and of course, resisting arrest or obstruction of justice, making the situation far worse. If you see the lights of a squad car behind you, pull over immediately. It is a felony to try to run from the police and will make everything far worse.
  • You are not required to perform any roadside testing or the roadside breath test if you are stopped for a DWI. Politely decline to perform these roadside tests and request an opportunity to call your lawyer. By the time these roadside tests are requested, they are already going to arrest you, these only add evidence to their side. You MUST cooperate in the testing they request at the police station, but only after you have gotten advice from your lawyer as to whether or not to take the test offered depending on the facts of your particular case. It is not a refusal to decline to perform roadside testing.
  • Keep a calm composure. Yelling, stomping, cursing, arguing or any other over-the-top behavior gives the police reason to think that you are either a threat to yourself or others, or that you are guilty of what they suspect. Always treat the police with respect.
  • If the police approach your place of residence, do not let them search unless they have a warrant. If you are arrested, do not permit the officer(s) to go into your home for any reason and do not step outside of your home voluntarily. If they choose, they can bring you inside with them and legally search without a warrant.
  • Remember, you can’t believe everything said to you by law enforcement when they are interrogating or questioning you. In most cases, they are allowed to lie or bend the truth in order to obtain information and they do so quite often. Do not fall for it – respectfully and politely decline to engage in any discussions or make any statements and ask to speak with your lawyer.
  • Memorize your lawyer’s phone number. Once you are in custody, you will not be given permission to use your own phone. Be sure you have a phone number for your lawyer that they answer 24/7 for emergencies like you being taken into custody.

If you’ve been arrested or suspect that your rights have been violated, contact  Kris Naros at  Naros Law. Setting up a free consultation is the best way to review the facts and make an informed decision on what course of action to take in the courtroom.