Tell Me The Odds: Successfully Defending A DWI Case in Minnesota

Posted On November 07, 2017 Charles Ramsay

One of the most common questions we get from people who have been arrested for DWI and are looking for help is "what are the odds that you can help me?" It's one of the most loaded questions you can ask an attorney, and one of the most difficult to answer . . . but if you break it down piece by piece, the answer gets easier.

We've got a motto that guides how we handle every case at Ramsay Law Firm: "Every DWI Case is Winnable."  That motto guides every decision we make, in every case we take, as we try to get the best possible result for our clients. But answering the question "tell me the odds" actually involves three separate questions:

  1. How do you define "winning" your DWI case?
  2. What types of defenses are necessary to get to that result?
  3. How do you define "success" at the end of the case?

We're going to break down all three of those questions in the next three blog posts, trying to simplify a common and complex question. So first -- what does it mean to "win" a DWI case?

Getting the case dismissed entirely (both the criminal charges and the civil Implied Consent revocation) is the obvious and easy answer. But, no matter how strong our track record of success is, we simply cannot make a guarantee that we will get your case outright dismissed. It certainly happens, and we'll put a staggering amount of effort into getting a dismissal on even the flimsiest of issues . . . but it's simply not that common. When we do come across an issue that acts as as close to a "sure fire" win as you can hope for (and we uncover something like this nearly every year), you can be confident that it won't take long for someone to change the law and close that loophole right up. 

"Winning" a DWI case can mean a lot more than outright dismissal, but depending on your circumstances, sometimes this is the only "win" that even counts. Need to travel to Canada, or protect your CDL, or keep your job, and the only way to do that is to get the DWI completely dismissed, across the board? Then we are your firm, and we will give your case our all.

But for many others, "winning" can be defined differently. Sometimes winning is getting the criminal charges dropped from a gross misdemeanor DWI to a simple misdemeanor -- or even the non-alcohol related offense of careless driving. Sometimes, it's about preventing a vehicle forfeiture by getting the charges reduced from 2nd degree DWI to 3rd degree DWI. Sometimes its about avoiding a felony conviction, avoiding mandatory jail, reducing the license revocation period by a year or more, keeping a DWI off of a juvenile's record, and so on. In each of those situations, our clients can still end up with some form of DWI on their record (either a criminal conviction, and/or a license revocation) but the goal of dramatically reducing the consequences in the short term and the long term has been met. In many cases, this too is considered a "win." 

And sadly, there are cases where nothing works; the prosecutor won't negotiate, our motions are all denied, the jury returns a guilty verdict, the judge sustains the license revocation. Even then, when we are in pure "damage control" mode, there are little things we can try and do for our clients -- reducing the length of probation, reducing the amount of fine, and other minor tweaks to the "standard sentence" that every county seems to promote. We don't consider those types of results as "wins," because they should just be the standard expectation for any attorney who wants to be paid in exchange for services. If you are only looking for an attorney who can get your fine reduced, please, save your money and time and do not hire us -- we aim much, much higher!

So, how do you define "winning?" Answer that question, and then move on to the next two posts in this series. By the end, you'll have a better idea of how we respond when people ask us to "tell them the odds."

Part II: What Will It Take To Get A Winning Result In Your Case?

Part III: Defining Success After A DWI Case Is Concluded (coming soon)

Charles Ramsay