S.F. 1825 amends the prior impaired driving conviction definition (section 1), the prior impaired driving-related loss of license definition (section 2), and the 1st degree driving while impaired (DWI) crime (section 3) in the DWI chapter of law (Minnesota Statutes 169A) by adding references to the 2006 Criminal Vehicular Operation (CVO) law.
In 2007, the CVO crime was restructured. This restructuring involved consolidating some provisions while repealing others. At the time, the references to the CVO law in the DWI law’s definitions of prior impaired driving conviction and prior impaired driving-related loss of license, and the 1st degree DWI crime were amended to include references to the updated statute and to strike references to the provisions being repealed. As a result, the definitions and the 1st degree DWI crime no longer specifically refer to the “old” CVO law. This leaves the law susceptible to an argument that a past conviction under the “old” CVO law does not “count” as a prior DWI-related offense or as a predicate for the 1st degree DWI crime. In fact, this argument was recently made in State v. Retzlaff (807 N.W. 2d 437 (2011), review granted February 14, 2012). In Retzlaff, the Court of Appeals rejected this argument. By adding references to the “old” CVO law to these provisions, S.F. 1825, in essence, affirms the result in Retzlaff and closes what is basically a loophole in current law.