DWI & Criminal Vehicular Operation

At this point everyone should know that they should never get behind the wheel while under the influence. However, where people generally get in trouble is when they try to reason with themselves. They believe that their level of intoxication after three beers is safer than their intoxication after six beers. Any level of intoxication that sets your blood alcohol content over the legal limit or even effects you’re driving is too much. In these cases you will find yourself facing a DWI if caught by Minnesota law enforcement.

However, while many find themselves pulled over and placed under arrest for DWI, law enforcement doesn’t catch them all. Some impaired drivers take to the road, and yes, sometimes the worst does happen. Their intoxication level causes dangerous driving and accidents happen because of it. This is when a simple DWI can be elevated to a CVO, or Criminal Vehicular Operation.

What is a Criminal Vehicular Operation?

When it comes to CVO charges, the driver need not always be under the influence of alcohol. In order to be charged with Criminal Vehicular Operation, the driver gets into an accident while driving that causes great bodily harm to anyone else involved, including their passengers. At least one of the following must also be true:

  • The driver’s blood alcohol content was greater than the .08 legal limit
  • The driver was under the influence of drugs or had drugs in their system
  • The driver has a previous citation for a defect or hazardous condition of a vehicle
  • The driver was operating the vehicle in a grossly negligent manner

This means that if you are driving while under the influence, get into a crash, and cause very serious injury to another driver, you can face Criminal Vehicular Operation which is essentially an elevated DWI charge. However, if you were driving dangerously without substances in your system or driving after receiving a ticket for something like a speedometer that doesn’t work, then you can also face CVO charges after a serious accident.

What is Considered Bodily Harm?

When it comes to a CVO charge, any injury in an accident where the criteria for a CVO charge is met is punishable. However, the degree in which a person is injured in the accident will decide the punishment. The bad news is that unless the injuries are very minor, you are looking at a felony if convicted for many of them.

The degrees of harm in a CVO charge include:

  • Criminal Vehicular Homicide – A felony charge punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $20,000. This is used when a death results from the accident, including the loss of a pregnancy.
  • Great Bodily Harm – Used for very serious, possibly life-threatening or life-altering injury. This charge is a felony that will result in up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Substantial Bodily Harm – This is used for injuries that are serious, but are ultimately temporary, as in the victim will heal without issue. This is a felony charge that is punished by up to three years in prison with a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Injury to an Unborn Child – If a child still in utero is injured due to the accident, but the pregnancy is not lost, you will still face a felony charge that comes with a punishment of up to five years in prison and fines up to $20,000.
  • Bodily Harm – This covers pretty much any other type of injury. This charge is a gross misdemeanor that has a punishment of up to one year in prison and fines up to $3,000.

What to Do Now?

If you have been charged with Criminal Vehicular Operation, it is more likely you will be facing a felony than not. This is why it is so important to fight this charge with the help of a skilled lawyer, as a felony charge will follow you for life. If you are in the Minneapolis area and were arrested for a CVO, contact us today.

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Case Results


County: Scott

Type of Charge: 3rd DWI

Priors: 1 prior

Final Deposition: Plead to a 4th degree DWI

Sentence Imposed: No jail


County: Dakota

Type of Charge: Harassment Order

Priors: None

Final Deposition: Dismissed

Sentence Imposed:


County: Hennepin

Type of Charge: Solicitation of Prostitute

Priors: 1 prior

Final Deposition: Stay of imposition vacate and dismiss

Sentence Imposed: No jail

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