The Minnesota Supreme Court this week greatly expanded the prohibition of carrying a pistol while intoxicated. Mr. Prigge was stopped in a motor vehicle for suspicion of driving while under the influence. A search of the vehicle revealed that there was a handgun in the center console. Prigge was subsequently charged with DWI and carrying a pistol while under the influence pursuant to Minnesota Statute § 624.7142 subd. 1(4) (2016) Mr. Prigge successfully argued to the District Court that the charge of carrying a firearm "about his clothes or person" while under the influence of alcohol should be suppressed because a gun in the center console was not "about his clothes or person." The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of the charge reasoning that there needed to be a "physical nexus" between a person's clothes or person and the pistol. The Minnesota Supreme Court however disagreed. They determined that this analysis ignored the word "about" in the statute. About is defined as "in the vicinity" or "in the immediate neighborhood." Using these dictionary definitions of the word "about" the Supreme Court concluded that in the context of the statute that prohibits carrying a pistol while intoxicated boils down to having the pistol either on one's person or "in one's personal vicinity defined as within arm's reach.
It is nerve wracking to get pulled over by a police officer; however, it is even worse when a driver discovers that the officer suspects that he or she is under the influence of alcohol. Drunk driving a charge that could result in serious penalties, especially if the driver has a past record of DWIs.
Drunk driving is a very serious charge and, understandably, many people think that those who are accused of the the crime are guilty before they even go to trial -- or before the criminal process even truly gets going. However, there are certainly effective ways for people who are accused of drunk driving to build a defense that holds water.
A report released by the combined efforts of the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility found that drugs are now more likely to be the cause of a fatal accident than intoxication due to alcohol. The results are surprising because this is the first time alcohol has been surpassed by drugs in this context.
In our last post, we talked about expungement and how the Minnesota Supreme Court narrowly decided that the "Second Chance" law in this state did not apply to an individual who had criminal conviction downgraded to a misdemeanor. This meant he would not be able to expunge the conviction.
Getting a DWI can be very serious, but for those with a commercial driver's license (CDL), it can also mean a loss of their ability to work. That's because Minnesota drivers who get a DWI will lose more than just their regular driving privileges. They also lose access to their CDL, which will generally cost them their job. In some cases a driver may be able to switch to a different job with the same company so they can continue working, but in a lot of cases the driver will be fired because they can no longer do their job and the company's insurance premiums to keep them on the payroll will rise too high to be acceptable.
The state of Minnesota, as is the case for every state in the country, recognizes the 0.08 blood alcohol limit for drivers. Anyone over that level can be arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. However, there are other circumstances that can lead to a DUI arrest, just as there are many different consequences that can be applied to a person who charged with such an offense.
Being accused of drunk driving is a serious time in any person's life. There are massive legal penalties that accompany such a charge. You can lose your license, your car will be impounded, you could be jailed for an extended period and, for many, you will suffer penalties that extend well beyond the legal penalties. What we are talking about here is the financial cost of a DUI.
Most residents of the state of Minnesota are likely aware that drunk driving convictions can lead to serious penalties. As is the case with virtually every law, those pertaining to DWI can, and do, change. Last summer a new law concerning fatal drunk driving crashes was passed. The change makes the consequences for a conviction, under some circumstances, harsher than they previously were.
Criminal laws in the state of Minnesota are not set in stone. They can change as a result of actions taken by lawmakers as well as court decisions. Depending on how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a case it is currently considering, the state could see a change where the administration of breath tests is concerned.