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Minnesota court ruling opens doors for DWI appeals

Minnesota motorists may have more grounds to appeal convictions for driving under the influence following a recent ruling by a Hennepin County Court judge. The ruling stated that the DataMaster, a machine used to record the results of breath tests for alcohol across the state, had rounded up one person's test result, potentially leading to her DWI conviction.

The woman in question had appealed to change her drunk driving conviction. When the judge examined the case, she ruled that it is likely that the driver's first breath sample did not show a test result of 0.16 or greater. She further noted that these results were, therefore, an insufficient basis to revoke the driver's license to operate a vehicle.

The lawyer who represented the convicted woman said that the results of the case indicate that hundreds of people who have been charged or convicted of drunk driving may now have a basis to challenge the results. The problems with the DataMaster equipment could mean that people were wrongfully convicted of crimes based on insufficient or inaccurate evidence, he said. The lawyer noted that people have two years to challenge a DWI conviction under current law and said that cases currently pending could also be affected by the ruling. In particular, he noted that the state has tiered DWI charges to different BAC levels of 0.04, 0.08 and 0.16. Therefore, these data anomalies could make a significant difference in those cases.

People who are facing DWI charges in Minnesota could be dealing with lifelong consequences, including criminal charges and administrative sanctions. A conviction can mean losing one's driver's license and a spike in insurance rates as well as the potential for severe fines and even jail time. A criminal defense lawyer can help an alleged offender protect their rights and present a strong defense.

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