Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a serious offense, costing drivers the ability to drive and work. In many cases, drivers are even be forced to pay hefty fines or serve jail time for a DUI arrest. Recently, Zach Bauer, a partner at Meshbesher & Spence in Rochester, Minnesota, spoke to a local radio station about the dangers of drinking and driving.

The Facts
How common are DUI arrests in the state of Minnesota?

The numbers are fairly high. It has been estimated that one in seven Minnesota drivers are called out by law enforcement for driving while not sober. I’ve found that many people aren’t aware just how quickly they can surpass the legal limit while out drinking with friends. Just a drink or two at dinner could be enough for someone who has a low tolerance for alcohol.

What’s the legal blood alcohol limit in Minnesota?

In the United States, a blood alcohol level of .08 percent is enough to result in a DUI arrest. It’s important to note that in Minnesota, even if you can pass a field sobriety test you can be charged with a DUI if your blood alcohol level tests at .08. Some people think you can refuse to submit to that test, but I always point out that in the state of Minnesota, you can actually be charged with “test refusal.” The constitutionality of this law is currently being debated in our state’s Supreme Court, but as it stands, you can be prosecuted more severely if you refused to take either a blood, breath, or urine test.

Staying Safe
How do I know when I’ve had too much alcohol to drive?

That’s the tricky part. I mentioned before that some people have a lower tolerance for alcohol, depending on a variety of factors. There’s body weight, gender, how often you drink—all of these things can influence how quickly you burn off the alcohol you consume. A person who is a heavy drinker will usually burn of alcohol at a rate of .020 per hour, while a less-experienced person may only burn off .015 percent per hour.
What advice do you have for someone who has been pulled over for drinking?

I advise people to be as cooperative as possible. In Minnesota, officers must have reasonable articulable suspicion to pull someone over specifically for drinking, but you may have been pulled over for another traffic offense, such as failing to use a turn signal. In that case, if you don’t give them evidence that you’ve been drinking, through a field sobriety test, for instance, all they have is the Breathalyzer as evidence.

How can a person avoid a DUI?

Of course, the best way is to avoid drinking and driving altogether. Minnesota’s law enforcement agencies also often put checkpoints in place on holiday weekends, which is something to be aware of. While the constitutionality of checkpoints has been hotly debated, it’s important to be aware that on holiday weekends, you’ll be more likely to encounter law enforcement on the roads.
If you have more questions about DUI, Zach Bauer welcomes you to complete the free case evaluation form to the right or call 507.280.8090.