The latest legislative session presented changes regarding DWI laws in Minnesota. There was significant discussion regarding changing the blood alcohol level required for the level to be an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes. The threshold was previously a blood alcohol level of .20 or more and that has been changed to .16. This change ultimately passed.
In addition, the legislature approved a new defense for drivers in Implied Consent cases – civil proceedings related to license revocations following a DWI arrest. Defendants in the criminal cases previously could argue necessity, or that they had acted in a criminal manner during an emergency situation which they had not created in order to avoid greater harm, in order to avoid criminal consequences for the DWI. However, the Commissioner of Public Safety had taken the position that the defense was not available to these drivers and the related Implied Consent proceedings because defenses were limited to those provided for in the Implied Consent statute. The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed this decision in Axelberg v. Commissioner of Public Safety. That case involved troubling facts where an intoxicated woman fleeing her abusive spouse was prohibited from raising a necessity defense in response to the license revocation. In response to the Axelberg decision, lawmakers approved a change to the Implied Consent Statute which explicitly permits a drunken driving suspect to invoke a necessity defense in the Implied Consent proceedings. As such, Minn. Stat. § 169A.53, subd. 3 has been amended to allow drivers to raise an affirmative defense of necessity effective August 1, 2015.
As demonstrated during the recent legislative session, the law regarding DWI charges continues to change. The attorneys at Hansen, Dordell, Bradt, Odlaug & Bradt, P.L.L.P. can help individuals address the criminal and civil implications of a DWI case. If you or a loved one is charged with a DWI or is facing other consequences of impaired driving, call or e-mail an experienced criminal attorney at Hansen, Dordell, Bradt, Odlaug & Bradt, P.L.L.P. – www.hansendordell.com/651-482-8900.