The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Patton (Decided November 25, 2019, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that a hit and run and a DWI do not necessarily arise from the same behavioral incident.
In Patton, a 911 caller reported his vehicle had been struck by a Ford truck in Isanti County. An officer in Anoka County subsequently located and stopped the truck. The Defendant was driving the Ford and was subsequently arrested for DWI.
The Defendant pled guilty to Hit and Run in Isanti County and subsequently moved to dismiss the Anoka County DWI, asserting that pursuant to Minnesota Statute 609.035, subd. 1, if the person engages in conduct that “constitutes more than one offense . . . , the person may be punished for only one of the offenses and a conviction ... of any one ... is a bar to prosecution for any other of them.”
The district court denied the motion, finding the DWI and hit-and-run offenses did not occur in substantially the same place because they occurred approximately 6.5 miles apart and in different counties. The district court found that the hit-and-run offense was reported at 7:50 p.m. and Patton was arrested for DWI at 8:20 p.m. But the court found no evidence as to precisely when the first offense occurred.
On Appeal, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the district court, stating:
"The determination whether multiple offenses arose from the same behavioral incident necessarily depends on the particular facts and circumstances of the case."
"In Johnson, our supreme court established the test that guides our analysis. After pleading guilty to driving over the center line, Johnson moved to dismiss a related DWI charge on the ground that its prosecution was barred by Minn. Stat. § 609.035 because it arose from the same behavioral incident. 141 N.W.2d at 520. The Johnson court recognized that when intent is not a factor, two or more offenses result from a single behavioral incident when they “occur at substantially the same time and place and arise out of a continuous and uninterrupted course of conduct, manifesting an indivisible state of mind or coincidental errors of judgment.” Id. at 525; see State v. Bauer, 792 N.W.2d 825, 828 (Minn. 2011) (quoting Johnson)} Because Johnson committed the two offenses “within a period of a few minutes and a distance of two blocks,” and his conduct “manifest[ed] an indivisible state of mind,” the supreme court concluded that they flowed from the same behavioral incident. 141 N.W.2d at 525".
"Because Patton was charged with both unintentional and general-intent crimes, we focus on the three-prong Johnson test."
"The circumstances of Patton’s offenses do not demonstrate the proximity of time and place that was present in Johnson, Corning, and other cases Patton cites."
"The actual time between Patton’s two offenses likely exceeds 30 minutes as that time frame does not include the period during which the other driver pursued Patton before calling the police. Either way, we are not persuaded that the offenses occurred at substantially the same time. The undisputed 30- minute interval between Patton’s offenses is markedly longer than those found in other cases. In Corning, the second offense occurred very close in time to the first offense— while police were obtaining initial information at the accident scene. 184 N.W.2d at 605. In Gladden, the offenses occurred “within a few minutes.” 144 N.W.2d at 780. And the same in Johnson. 141 N.W.2d at 525."
"In sum, the time and place prongs of the Johnson test do not support a determination that Patton’s crimes arose from the same behavioral incident. Because the three prongs of the Johnson test—time, place, course of conduct—are joined by the conjunctive “and,” all three must be satisfied to conclude that Patton’s offenses arose from the same behavioral incident."
I do not think this case makes a lot of sense. Under its logic, if you get caught right away, you can only be convicted of one offense. But if you manage to escape for a short period, the State can pile on the convictions.
Moral Of The Story: If you commit more than one offense, turn yourself in.
If you or a loved one have been arrested for a Minnesota DWI, or are facing a DWI forfeiture of your motor vehicle, feel free to contact Minnesota DWI Attorney, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI questions.