Bail is an amount of money that the courts require a defendant to deposit in exchange for their release from jail pending trial. An experienced DWI Defense lawyer will know that for some offenses, the judge (or even the arresting officers) will release a person on their own recognizance.
Often referred to as ROR, this process involves a defendant obtaining their release without having to pay any amount of bail into the court. Instead, they make a promise to appear in court for their trial and any other mandatory court appearances.
Many first-time DWI offenders in Minnesota receive ROR without spending days in jail awaiting arraignment. However, state law does require defendants in certain types of DWI cases to pay a mandatory amount of bail or remain behind bars until the completion of their criminal case.
Types of Bail
Unlike many other states, judges in Minnesota set two different dollar amounts when they grant a criminal defendant bail. The court will set both conditional and unconditional amounts of bail in each case.
The amount of conditional bail is less than the unconditional amount. However, as the name implies, conditional bail comes with far more conditions the defendant must comply with to remain free. In DWI cases, these conditions could include anything, from avoiding contact with a specific person, staying away from a particular bar, or remaining alcohol-free.
Alternatively, a defendant could choose unconditional bail. While this dollar amount is more, it typically comes with fewer conditions for a defendant’s release. The trade-off is that while unconditional bail costs more, there are fewer conditions that could trip a person up and result in the revocation of their bail.
While the court has the option to release a defendant on their own recognizance in most cases, certain DWI offenses require mandatory bail. If a defendant is unable to make bail, they will remain in jail until the date of their trial. Some of the circumstances where mandatory bail is required include:
- A charge of second-degree DWI
- A DWI arrest involving a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .16 or more
- A third-degree DWI for anyone under the age of 19
- When a person is arrested for DWI while their license is canceled as inimical to public safety
- A person with a prior DWI conviction the past 10 years was arrested with a child under the age of 16 in the car
The court does not have leeway in granting released without bail under any of these circumstances.
Limits on Bail Amount
There are some limits on the maximum amount of bail the court can set in certain DWI cases. According to Minnesota Statute Section 629.471, the court may not set bail in a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor case any higher than double the maximum potential fine in the case. For example, a person facing fourth-degree DWI charges could face a fine of no more than $1,000. This means that the maximum amount of bail the court could set in these cases is $2,000.
As seasoned DWI Defense lawyers in Minnesota, we know that this statute does not apply to felony DWI cases. There is no hard limit to the amount of bail the court can set. While this provides judges with substantial leeway in setting bail for a felony DWI defendant, that does not mean there are no limitations whatsoever.
Both the state and federal constitutions require bail to be reasonable and bar it from being excessive. While this is a subjective issue, attorneys have had success arguing that bail is excessive in the past. In some cases, your attorney could successfully push the court to lower the amount of bail.
Talk to a Minnesota DWI Attorney to Learn More
Fighting for a reasonable bail amount is only one of the ways a skilled DWI defense lawyer in Minnesota could assist you in your case. Your attorney can help you develop a winning trial strategy that could give you the best opportunity to obtain a favorable outcome in your case. If you are ready to discuss your defense options, contact the attorneys at Gerald Miller right away at (612) 440-4610 to schedule your free consultation.