What Drake’s Law Could Mean For DUI Offenders in Minnesota



For those unfamiliar with how Drake’s Law could impact DUI penalties in Minnesota, this bill recently passed the Minnesota House unanimously. The result on Minnesota drivers are harsher penalties if convicted of multiple accounts of driving under the influence. The penalty guideline to consider:

  • Maximum prison sentence raised to 15 years for convictions of criminal vehicular homicide, applicable to anyone with a DWI offense during the previous ten years that resulted in damage to property or person.

The inspiration behind this legislation was the death of Drake Bigler, a five-month-old child, that was killed in 2012 by a drunk driver. The driver had previous convictions of driving while under the influence.

Formally called HF71, the legislation was authored by Senator Gary H. Dahms and Representatives Chris Swedzinski, Jason Rarick, and Linda Slocum. The bill is described as creating an enhanced penalty for offenders convicted of criminal vehicular homicide if any driving under the influence offense has occurred within ten years of the vehicular homicide incident.

Considering the emotional impact the death of an infant had on Minnesotans, it is no surprise that the measure passed unanimously. Minnesota’s DUI statistics are also astonishing. As Representative Swedzinski argued on behalf of the bill, he pointed out that Minnesota needs to catch up with the rest of the Midwest where DUI penalties are concerned. He pointed out that the same offense in Wisconsin earns offenders forty years in jail and Nebraska’s offenders get twenty-eight years of prison time.

Among licensed Minnesota drivers, one in seven have a DWI conviction. Many of those have multiple convictions. On average, Minnesota arrests more than 25,000 drunk drivers every year which breaks down to about 70 DWI arrests daily. According to the experience of Clay County Sheriff, Bill Berquist, repeat offenders is the norm where DWI’s are concerned. Supporting his opinion is a study that revealed that 40% of Minnesota’s DWI offenders had a previous DWI conviction.

What this means for defendants is that much more is on the line in a driving under the influence case, and not just one involving fatalities. Offenders will need vigorous representation in court if they are to have any chance of maintaining their freedom. It is critical that even a non-fatality DUI offense be argued effectively for dismissal. No Minnesota driver wants any DUI or DWI offense on their record. Fifteen years of their life could depend on it should they have a motor vehicle accident under the influence that results in someone’s death.

A single DUI or DWI conviction can spell disaster for a person’s life. Most people immediately understand that a conviction results in the suspension of a driver’s license, possible jail time, hefty fines, probation and education about substance abuse. What most Minnesotans may not think about are the long term effects that can be life-changing such as:

  • Ignition interlocks in motor vehicles
  • Alcohol monitoring unit within the home
  • Difficulty finding employment with a criminal record
  • Disqualified from some occupations such as delivery driver, teacher, doctor, attorney or cab driver
  • Acceptance into college
  • High premium auto insurance
  • Social stigma even among loved ones
  • Difficulty finding housing rentals
  • Disqualified from volunteer opportunities with certain charitable organizations
  • Loss of certain liberties such as voting right, firearm ownership, passport clearance
  • Disqualification from certain federal benefits programs

By obtaining the services of an aggressive defense attorney, you will not only be possibly saving yourself jail time, but you could very well be preserving your way of life far into the future. If you have been arrested for DUI or DWI you need a legal team that is going to represent all of your interests and understands what is at stake. For a free consultation, please contact us. Our firm has more than a decade defending clients and is skilled in defending their freedoms and helping to preserve their way of life. By hiring assertive representation a person can relieve some of the stress such a case can create and make informed decisions in the days ahead that could affect them for years to come.

Disclaimer: The content of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact Jennifer Speas to discuss the specifics of your case.