Driving recklessly in Minnesota is considered a crime, and one that you can be convicted of should you be caught consciously disregarding an unjustifiable and substantial risk that your driving may cause to another's property or to another person. Being involved in a street race would be one example of this disregard and considered reckless driving.

Common Driving Offenses in Minnesota

Reckless or Careless Driving

Reckless or careless driving in Minnesota is charged as a criminal offense. These common traffic offenses carry jail time and significant fines if found guilty as charged by the police.

The laws covering reckless or careless driving are very extensive, and in some cases, offenders don’t even realize they have committed a crime. Each state has its own version of what it considers ‘reckless and careless’ driving, so if charged with this offense, you should consult Ringstrom Law right away to understand the charges placed on you.

In a lot of cases, the offender has a reasonable explanation for how they were driving. Explanations can include distractions by emotional issues occurring in their life, being in a rush to someplace important, or any other number of fully explainable reasons for your driving at the time you were accused of being reckless or careless.

While these are not excuses for criminal behavior, they may be able to explain why you were driving in what was thought to be ‘reckless’ or ‘careless.’

In many cases, alleged offenders are unlawfully charged for this crime. When arrested for these subjective crimes, they are often issued by imperfect police officials, so these become very defensible charges.

You will want a seasoned criminal defense attorney helping you through this challenging legal process. A reckless or careless driving violation on your record can have long reaching consequences on your future and your finances. Contact Ringstrom Law to help you through this judicial process.

Careless driving is charged if a law officer observes you are operating a motor vehicle carelessly and are disregarding the rights of other drivers on the road or pedestrians. Your driving is thought to be a danger to others or property. If found guilty of careless driving, you are facing misdemeanor charges which are punishable for up to ninety days, with a fine up to $1,000.

Reckless driving is similar to careless driving, but not identical. You can be charged with reckless driving if it is noticed you are operating a vehicle with deliberate disregard for others’ safety or other’s property. It can also be charged if you engage in a motor vehicle race. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor and punishable for up to ninety days in jail, along with a fine of up to $1.000.

Reckless Driving with a DWI Charge

Minnesota laws make it possible for a driver being charged with a DWI (driving while intoxicated) to enter into a plea bargain to receive a lesser charge. If your attorney at Ringstrom Law enters a plea to reduce your DWI down to a reckless driving charge, it is called a 'wet reckless' crime.

How much time you will spend in jail for a 'wet reckless' conviction will depend on the sentence assigned to your plea bargain. Sentencing law is complicated and can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. A statute, for example, can list a 'minimum' jail term that is longer than the time you will have to spend in jail. There are a number of factors that affect punishments, including the severity of the damage you caused, whether or not you have credits for good behavior while in custody, and if and how you've performed jail-alternative work programs. Your attorney at Ringstrom Law will work hard to get the best sentence possible for you.

DWI Charges in Minnesota

First Offense of a DWI in Minnesota is when you have no other DWIs within the past ten years. A DWI, sometimes referred to as a 'DUI,' will impose administrative and criminal penalties on you if there is a conviction of the charges. A DWI under the laws in Minnesota is defined as being in physical control, operating, driving a motor vehicle while:

  • You are physically or mentally impaired from drugs or alcohol
  • You are knowingly under the influence of a hazardous substance that is known to impair your body and your driving abilities
  • You have a BAC or blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or more
  • You have a measurable amount of Schedule I or II drug in your system

When you are arrested for DWI in Minnesota, it is a crime to refuse a breath alcohol test, as it is an implied consent test refusal crime. You will need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight these charges and protect your rights against this serious criminal charge. Ringstrom Law understands the DWI laws in Minnesota and has the experience to help you through this legal process.

Criminal Penalties

A criminal court issues criminal penalties if you are convicted of a DWI. A first DWI in ten years will be charged as a misdemeanor, with a maximum ninety-day jail sentence and a $1,000 fine. This sentencing can be increased to a gross misdemeanor if any of the following apply to your case:

  • You refused to take the breath test at your arrest
  • Your breath test resulted in .16 percent or higher
  • You had a passenger in your vehicle at the time of arrest who was under the age of 16

If your case involves these situations and your charges are escalated to a gross misdemeanor, you can be facing a jail sentence of one year and a $3,000 fine. You may also be required to submit a chemical dependency assessment if this is your first-time DWI offense.

Administrative Penalties

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety administers administrative penalties if you are charged with a DWI in Minnesota. These penalties are designed to provide swift consequences and are imposed soon after your DWI arrest. These consequences can even be applied if you are not criminally convicted of the DWI charges.

As a first-time offender, your driver’s license can be revoked up to ninety days. If your charge involves a refusal of a chemical test, or you tested at .16 percent or higher, the revocation can be increased to one year.

Another administrative penalty that can be imposed is 'plate impoundment' and applies to first-time offenses of DWI if your blood alcohol content was .16 percent or more, or if you had a passenger 16 years of age or younger with you in the vehicle at the time of your arrest.

With 'plate impoundment,' you have to remove and surrender the license plates from your vehicle. This impoundment applies to all vehicles registered in your name, whether jointly or alone. In order to drive those vehicles again, you will be required to apply for special registration plates, or what is called 'whiskey plates.'

These are serious consequences that will impact your life and driving privileges significantly. You will want Ringstrom Law working with you to reduce or dismiss these charges.

The costs involved with a DWI in Minnesota are also significant. These costs will include:

  • Surcharges and criminal fines
  • Assessment fees and surcharges to determine chemical dependency
  • In some instances, there are also bail expenses, treatment costs, and penalty assessments
  • You will also have to pay for a driver’s license examination fee to regain your driving privileges
  • Pay a DWI reinstatement surcharge and fee that costs approximately $700
  • Plate impoundment fees (if it applies)
  • If you ask to drive during the license revocation period, you will have to pay for the installation of an ignition interlock device

A second offense for DWI in Minnesota is charged if you have one DWI on your record in the past ten years. The severity of penalties will increase for each repeat DWI. A second offense will be charged as a 'gross misdemeanor.'

Mandatory penalties and long-term monitoring will apply if convicted of this charge. These penalties include having your license plates revoked, and your vehicle could be subject to forfeiture. As a 2nd degree allows for the forfeiting of your vehicle, negotiating to a lesser degree is more complex.

A 2nd degree DWI occurs if these factors apply to your case:

  • There are two prior DWIs in the past ten years
  • When arrested your blood level concentration was .16 percent or higher, or you refused to take the test
  • When arrested your blood level concentration was .16 percent or higher, and you had a passenger in the car who was under the age of 16

The consequences for a 2nd degree DWI are likely a jail sentence, and the amount of time you spend in jail will depend on the factors involved with your arrest and your past DWI convictions.

If you have two prior convictions of DWI on your record within the past ten years, your sentence will be a minimum of ninety days in jail, with thirty of those days being in custody, along with sixty-day electronic monitoring for alcohol supervision.

If you have one prior conviction with 2nd degree DWI, you are facing forty-eight hours in custody with a twenty-eight-day requirement of electronic monitoring for alcohol supervision. If your readings were elevated, the court might ask for a stiffer penalty. Criminal and administrative penalties will also apply for these charges.

These are serious consequences; however, with the proper legal defense from a criminal defense attorney, you can build an appropriate legal strategy to fight these sentences and charges. Ringstrom Law understands the DWI laws in Minnesota and has the experience to fight and defend your rights.

Hit and Run

If you are involved in an accident, you are legally required to stop your vehicle as soon as safely possible, and go back to the scene of the accident. Once at the scene, you are required to provide the police and any other driver involved with your name, address, date of birth, and registration.

If the vehicle you've hit is unattended, you need to make a reasonable attempt to find the owner or the other driver, contact the police, or leave your contact information for the other owner.

If you do not follow these steps as your ‘duty to stop’, it can become a Minnesota ‘hit and run’ offense. The details involving the ‘hit and run’ will determine how you are charged with this offense.

It is possible to be charged with a felony for a hit and run, if the accident involved the death of an individual. With this charge, you are facing a potential sentence of up to three years in prison and fines that can go as high as $5,000.

Hit and runs that cause a person serious bodily harm can also be charged as a felony, which will carry a prison sentence up to two years and a fine that go as high as $4,000.

A vehicular accident that causes severe bodily harm to another can carry a sentence of one year in jail and a fine as high as $3,000.

  • Severe bodily harm creates a higher chance of death or can result in permanent disfigurement. This harm can also include the loss of an organ
  • Serious bodily harm is an injury that causes temporary, but severe disfigurement or a fracture

Hit and run offenses are taken very seriously by judges, attorneys, the prosecution, and the police. These offenses are taken so seriously due to the high risk of them causing fatalities. You have to have a legitimate reason for fleeing the scene of an accident, and you will need a skilled attorney in Minnesota law to help defend against a hit and run charge. There are a number of defenses to be used against this charge, and you will need the legal counsel of Ringstrom Law to guide you through this difficult time.

Criminal Vehicular Homicide

If you are arrested for being grossly impaired or negligent while operating a vehicle, and your driving results in the death of an unborn child or a person, you can be charged with criminal vehicular homicide.

Criminal homicide which happened by your vehicle  is charged as a felony and applies when:

  • You are deemed grossly negligent in your driving
  • You are considered to be negligent and violate Minnesota DWI laws
  • You have been issued a citation for defective maintenance of your vehicle and did not have the proper repairs done, and this defect causes the accident which involved death

Criminal vehicular manslaughter can also be charged under Minnesota ‘hit-and-run’ laws.

Gross negligence is defined as extreme negligence or when one has acted without any amount of care when putting another at risk of harm. It means, as a driver, you were completely oblivious of your actions and harm you were causing others.

Your criminal history determines the consequences of vehicular homicide. Typically, this offense carries a ten-year prison sentence and a fine of $20,000. If you have a 'qualified prior driving offense' on your record within the past ten years, the maximum prison sentence is increased to fifteen years. A 'qualified prior driving offense' includes:

  • A first and second degree DWI on your record
  • Your criminal vehicular homicide charge involves drugs or alcohol
  • Your criminal vehicle injury involved drugs or alcohol

If you’ve been arrested for criminal vehicular homicide, your driver’s license is immediately suspended. If convicted of this charge and it involves drugs or alcohol, your license is revoked from six to ten years. All other convictions for vehicular homicide will carry at least a ten-year prison sentence.

Facing criminal vehicular homicide is serious. A conviction of these charges could result in a lengthy prison sentence. You will want to contact Ringstrom Law to help you through this challenging legal process. Cases are all different, and having an experienced attorney defending your rights can significantly improve your outcome.

Driving After Cancellation as Inimical to Public Safety

Once you have received a third DWI in Minnesota, within three years, your driver's license can be canceled as inimical to public safety. It can also be canceled if you have a DWI offense within ten years of special review, or you have four or more alcohol offenses in your lifetime.

In order to have your driving privileges reinstated from this penalty, you will need an ignition interlock and will need to follow these steps, as stated under Minnesota Administrative Rule 7503.1725.

  • You will need to complete a chemical use assessment and enroll in a treatment program. The treatment assessor will have to submit enrollment verification documents to the Driver and Vehicle Services with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
  • You will need to take and pass a DWI written knowledge test. This test will cover chapters seven and eight of the Minnesota Driver’s Manual.
  • You will have to pay a reinstatement fee of approximately $700.00.
  • You will need to apply for a new driver’s license and pay the cost of the application fee.
  • You will need to install and sign an ignition interlock participation agreement.
  • You will have to show proof of insurance for the vehicle that will be equipped with the ignition interlock direct from your insurance company, not the agent who handles your policies.
  • You will be required to sign a ‘last use’ form.
  • You will have to complete and sent a limited license application to the DVS.
  • You will be required to use a specific vendor to install the ignition interlock system.
  • You will need to apply for a special registration license plate once you’ve obtained the ignition interlock limited license.

If you had your license canceled due to inimical to public safety, or are facing any driving-related crimes, you will need a strong legal defense. Ringstrom Law has the courtroom experience needed to help you through these difficult legal charges, and we are ready to defend your rights and protect your future driving privileges.

Driving Without Insurance

If you own and operate a vehicle on Minnesota roadways, you are required to have auto insurance. You are also required to have proof of this insurance coverage on you or in your vehicle if stopped by authorities. Failure to have this proof when stopped is considered driving without insurance and is a misdemeanor under Minnesota law.

If you do not have the insurance proof with you at the time you are stopped, you will be allowed to produce it. You will be given until the date of your first court appearance to provide the courts with proof of insurance. The charges could be dropped if the courts receive this proof of insurance.

If you are driving someone else's vehicle, you may not be convicted unless it can be proven you knew the vehicle was uninsured. Under these circumstances, you must provide the police with the address and name of the owner, or risk criminal charges. The owner of the vehicle will have ten days to provide proof of insurance, and if they do not, they could be charged with a misdemeanor.

Driving without insurance is typically charged as a misdemeanor in Minnesota, and you could face a fine between $200 and $1,000, with a maximum of ninety days in jail. You also face the possible revocation of your driver's license and registration. The fine in these cases can include community service if you are facing financial hardships.

Driving without insurance can cause you jail time and fines. You will want an attorney by your side to discuss these charges and find a reasonable defense to fight them before you suffer undue hardships of losing your license.

Find a Driving Offense Attorney Near Me

When you are facing driving offense charges, you are facing the possibility of high fines and even the loss of your driving privileges. Contact Ringstrom Law at 218-284-0484 as soon as possible to protect those rights and keep these charges off your driving record.

Bruce Ringstrom Jr. & Bruce Ringstrom Sr.

Criminal Defense Attorneys in MN & ND

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