Mandatory Bail in Minnesota DWI/DUI Cases

As discussed in our August 18, 2009 Blog entitled “Minnesota Criminal Law: To Condition Bail or Not To Condition Bail,” the term “bail” refers to money in an amount determined by a judge and based on certain facts in a given case that is sometimes one of the conditions of release that an individual facing criminal charges may have placed on him or her pending his or her next court appearance in the case.  There are some cases in which the defendant is allowed to be released on his or her own recognizance, meaning he or she must simply remain law abiding and stay in contact with his or her lawyer and make his or her next court appearance in order to be released.  Most criminal cases in Minnesota involve conditions of release and/or bail.


Minnesota law states that if a bail amount is set as a condition of release by a judge, the judge must set two bail amounts, one that is based on the individual keeping other conditions of release – like wearing an alco-sensor anklet – as well as an amount that is unconditional, and based on the individual not having to maintain any other conditions while released pending his or her next court appearance.


In this article, we will look at the types of criminal cases in which bail is mandatory – meaning the judge in the case is required by law because of the circumstances of the case to set bail as one of the conditions of release for the individual.


We will cover the following topics:


A.     What are the statutes that govern mandatory bail in Minnesota and what is the vocabulary needed to understand how mandatory bail works in Minnesota, including maximum bail;

B.     How do conditional and unconditional bail amounts apply to the differing degrees of DUI/DWI offenses in Minnesota that trigger mandatory bail;

C.     What are the best arguments one can assert when facing charges that trigger mandatory bail in Minnesota; and


Statutes and Vocabulary Governing Mandatory Bail

Beginning with the statutes that govern mandatory bail, Minnesota Statute Section 169A.44 states that mandatory bail, imposed as either conditions of release plus a lesser amount of bail or as the maximum amount of bail and no conditions, must be imposed in order for a person to be released pending his or her next court appearance if any of the following facts apply to a DUI/DWI offense offense: The DUI/DWI is any degree other than a fourth degree DUI; there was a BAC of over 0.20; there was a test refusal; there was a child under 16 present in the vehicle; or the DUI occurred while the person’s license was cancelled as inimical to public safety (IPS).  (See Minnesota Statutes Sections 169A.20.1, 169A.24.1, 169A.24.2, 169A.20.1, 169A.25.1(a), 169A.25.2, 169A.26.1, and 169A.26.2.)


Minnesota Statute Section 629.471 outlines the amount of bail that is the maximum a court can impose for any given charged crime in Minnesota.  Basically, this statute section states that, with a couple exceptions, for a person charged with a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor, the maximum amount of bail that can be set is double whatever the highest cash fine that can be imposed for that offense is.  So, if a misdemeanor carries a maximum $500 fine penalty, the maximum amount of bail that can be set for that offense is $1000.


There are a few exceptions.  For misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors under Sections 169.09 (hit and run accidents), 169A.20 (DUI/DWI charges), 171.24 subdivision 5 (driving after cancellation, inimical to public safety), or 609.525 (transporting stolen goods into the state), the maximum amount of bail that can be set is four times the maximum cash fine penalty.  Also, for charges of assault, domestic assault, domestic abuse, or malicious punishment of a child, the maximum bail is six times the applicable fine.


As for felony DUI/DWI charges, Minnesota Statute Section 629.471 specifically states that it does not apply to felony DUI charges.  The maximum cash fine penalty for a first degree, or felony, DUI is $14,000, according to Section 169A.24.  However, the maximum bail amount that can be set for a felony DUI is $12,000, just like for a gross misdemeanor DUI.  This is the amount the bail would be if there were no conditions of release accompanying the individual’s release pending his or her next court appearance in the case.

Unconditional and Conditional Bail Amounts and Degree of DUI Charge


Anytime the bail amount imposed is less than the maximum, there will be conditions of release that apply.  If the circumstances in a DUI case that includes any of the following, the release conditions will almost always include the condition that the person agree to abstain from alcohol and to submit to remote electronic alcohol monitoring (REAM) involving at least daily breath-alcohol measurements.  These circumstances include: a third implied consent violation is ten years, a second violation if under age 19, a violation while cancelled as IPS, or a violation including a BAC of over 0.20.  Also, if charged with the fourth or more DWI in a ten year period, a person will face additional conditions such as: impoundment of the vehicle registration plates, or impoundment of the off-road recreational vehicle or motorboat itself, if one was being driven; a requirement for reporting at least weekly to a probation officer, involving random breath alcohol testing and/or urinalysis; and a requirement to reimburse the court for these services upon conviction for the crime.

In sum, if you are charged with a second or first degree DUI/DWI, you will be subject to mandatory bail.  You and your Minnesota Criminal Lawyer will need to decide which combination of conditions of release and bail amount are in your best interests, based on the facts of your individual case and your current life circumstances.  Remember, that while the maximum bail amount applies if there are no conditions on someone’s release, which seems like it would be the most expensive option, sometimes the conditions of release that accompany the lower bail amount are more expensive – for example, the alco-sensor anklet can end up costing more over the course of the several months the criminal case takes to be resolved than posting the maximum bail amount may cost.

Bail Arguments


As for the best arguments that one can assert against mandatory bail, courts rarely deviate from imposing mandatory bail, once it’s triggered by the offense charged.  That said, a good Minnesota Criminal lawyer will be able to argue at the bail hearing for reduced bail, for conditional or unconditional bail – depending on which one is in the defendant’s best interests – and for other elements that can make the mandatory bail the least restrictive combination of conditions possible during the pendency of the case.


Getting your Minnesota Criminal Attorney involved as early on in your case as you can is the best thing you can do to protect your rights and ensure that if there are applicable bail arguments that could help you, those arguments are made at the appropriate time to the court on your behalf.

Call (952) 835-6314 today for a free consultation.

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