The affectionately named “Blackout Wednesday” is almost here, and it is one of the most dangerous days on the roads in Minnesota. The term gets its name from the fact that most people don’t have school or work on Thanksgiving, so many people decide to celebrate the upcoming holiday by having some drinks with family and friends the night before the holiday. Some people take it a bit too far and end up getting “blackout drunk,” which can lead to a whole host or problems, or at least one wicked Thanksgiving hangover.
Unfortunately, some of those blacked out individuals end up getting behind the wheel, and if they are caught by police, they’ll be charged with DWI. But if you are blacked out or found passed out behind the wheel of a car, will you face a more significant DWI charge in Minnesota? We explain how blacking out or passing out will affect your DWI charge in today’s blog.
Blacked Out Or Passed Out DWI Charge
For this blog, we are only going to talk about situations where the blacked out or passed out individual is found by police before they cause an accident. If you black out while driving and hit a pedestrian or you pass out behind the wheel at a stoplight and and up rear ending the person in front of you, you’ll face additional charges for causing injuries and property damage. For now, we’re just going to focus on situations where you are pulled over while blacked out or if police find you passed out behind the wheel and no injuries or property damage have occurred.
Minnesota does not have a specific statute that dictates that blacked out or passed our drivers will face upgraded DWI charges. However, they do have a list of aggravating factors that could serve to enhance your DWI charge. The most commonly applicable aggravating factor in this situation is your blood alcohol concentration. Minnesota law states that a person can face upgraded DWI charges if their blood alcohol concentration is above 0.16, which is more than double the legal limit. If you’ve consumed alcohol to the point where you’ve blacked out or are passed out behind the wheel, there’s a decent chance that your BAC will not only be above the 0.08 threshold for a DWI arrest, but also above the 0.16 threshold that will trigger an enhanced charge.
In this instance, your DWI charge would be upgraded from a standard Fourth Degree DWI to a Third Degree DWI. This means you’ll be facing a gross misdemeanor charge instead of a misdemeanor charge, which is punishable by fines up to $3,000 and up to a year in jail. You will also lose your driver’s license for a period of one year, although you may be able to continue driving if you participate in the state ignition interlock program. You can learn more about Minnesota’s IID program and the fees associated with its use in this blog.
So while the act of blacking out or passing out behind the wheel won’t trigger an upgraded DWI charge, there’s a good chance that your charges will be upgraded if your BAC is more than twice the legal limit. In these situations, you absolutely need a DWI lawyer by your side to help you navigate the rough waters ahead. Even if we can’t beat the charges, we can certainly help you avoid a worst case scenario.
For more information about DWIs or developing a defense plan, reach out to Avery and the team at Appelman Law Firm at (952) 224-2277. We hope you heed our advice and stay out of trouble this Thanksgiving, but we’ll be here for you if you or a family member needs assistance.