Are you facing at least your second DWI charge within the past ten years? Do you want a lighter sentence? If you answer “yes” to both of those questions, then installing an ignition interlock device in your vehicle may be the answer for you. Not only will enrolling in the ignition interlock program allow repeat DWI offenders the ability to drive a motor vehicle a lot sooner, it also may allow them to avoid a mandatory jail sentence in certain instances.
Since July 1, 2011, Minnesota judges are no longer required to follow mandatory minimum sentences for people facing at least their second DWI charge within the past ten years, as long as the person is driving only a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device (See Minn. Stat. §169A.275, subdivision 7). This statute allows judges to sentence people to less or no jail time, less electronic home monitoring, and pronounce an overall lighter sentence. It is important to note, a judge is not required to depart from a mandatory minimum sentence if an individual installs an ignition interlock device, but it certainly gives the individual and their Minnesota Criminal Lawyer the ability to argue for a departure downward from an otherwise mandatory sentence.
Our firm has has a lot of recent success arguing for departures from an otherwise mandatory jail sentence for repeat DWI offenders. For example, one of our clients was recently charged with 3rd degree DWI and was subsequently facing a mandatory 30 day jail sentence or combination of jail and electronic home monitoring. However, we argued for a departure from the mandatory sentence based on her having the interlock device installed in her motor vehicle. The court was persuaded by our argument and our client was spared having to serve any of the otherwise 30 day mandatory sentence. We are experiencing similar success in other repeat offender cases as well.
Mandatory minimum sentences for repeat driving under the influence offenses have existed in Minnesota for several years now. As a MN Criminal Lawyer for almost 17 years, it is one the most frustrating issues I’ve had to deal with on a daily basis. Unfortunately, it has had the effect of allowing our legislature to take discretion away from Judges who are appointed or elected for that very reason… to have the ability to look at each case and defendant individually and use their discretion in handing down a just sentence.
Fortunately, with the ignition interlock program now becoming more prevalent across the State of Minnesota, DWI Lawyers now have the ability, in these cases, to ask the court to really look at the particular defendant and what he or she has done since their DUI arrest to help themselves and then formulate an appropriate sentence based on these factors.