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Drake’s Law, felony DWI and prior convictions

If law enforcement arrests you on suspicion of drunk driving and this is your first such experience, you will no doubt resolve to deal with it and get on with your life.

However, if you are a repeat DWI offender in the state of Minnesota, the situation will be considerably more critical, partly because of Drake’s Law.

A little history

In 2012, Drake Bigler died when a drunk driver crashed into the car in which he and his family were riding. He was only five months old. The drunk driver, who escaped injury, was a repeat offender whose blood alcohol content level was 0.351% at the time of the accident. The judge sentenced him to four years in prison. Enacted in 2016, Drake’s Law was named after the Bigler child. The law increases the maximum Minnesota prison sentence for vehicular homicide from 10 years to 15 years.

Who the new law affects

The driver who caused the crash that killed Drake Bigler had two prior DWI convictions: gross-misdemeanor drunk driving in 2005 and drunk driving in 2000. His history also included speeding and reckless driving convictions. Drake’s Law specifically targets drivers who have had DWI offenses within the past 10 years and whose actions caused injury to others.

Facing penalties

If arrested for DWI, your driving history will be an important consideration. For example, if you have had three DWI convictions within the past 10 years, you are no longer in misdemeanor territory, you are looking at a felony DWI, and the penalties are much more severe. In addition to extended prison time, you will not be eligible for early release until you complete an alcohol treatment program. However, under certain circumstances, a reduction in penalties is possible, as is the dismissal of your case. In preparing your defense, your attorney must become familiar with the circumstances surrounding your previous convictions and look for errors or irregularities that may have been present in your recent arrest.

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