Ethan P. Meaney

Top rated DUI-DWI attorney in Andover, Minnesota

Meaney & Patrin, P.A.
Ethan P. Meaney
Meaney & Patrin, P.A.

Practice Areas: DUI-DWI, Criminal Defense; view more

Licensed in Minnesota since: 1999

Education: The University of South Dakota School of Law

Selected to Super Lawyers: 2014 - 2024 Selected to Rising Stars: 2007, 2010 - 2012
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Meaney & Patrin, P.A.

4024 151st Avenue NW
Andover, MN 55304 Visit website


As a former prosecutor, Ethan P. Meaney knows what it takes to defend his clients against DWI charges. Defending clients in the Greater Twin Cities area and across Minnesota, Mr. Meaney has the skills and experience it takes to get results for his clients. Since graduating from law school in 1999, Mr. Meaney has litigated thousands of DWI cases. He is not afraid to take on even the most complex cases. Mr. Meaney has a record for success that includes recent appeals victories in Tracey Ernest Wiberg v. Commissioner of Public Safety and State of Minnesota v. Paul Scott Demars.

Having previously been a prosecutor, Mr. Meaney is well aware of the strict sanctions that Minnesota clients face when facing DWI charges. He uses this experience to provide unique and individualized services to his clients. As the co-founder of Meaney & Patrin, P.A., Mr. Meaney focuses his practice on defending clients against traffic violations, DUI/DWI and other criminal law matters.

Mr. Meaney works diligently to keep his legal skills and knowledge current. He maintains membership with various associations and organizations such as the Hennepin County Bar Association, the Minnesota State Bar Association, the American Bar Association, both the Minnesota and National Associations of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the National College of DUI Defense. He has received numerous awards and recognition for his outstanding service, including an Avvo rating of 10.0, or "superb." He has also been voted Minnesota Super Lawyer in the field of DWI/DUI criminal defense every year since 2014.

While Mr. Meaney understands the complexities of Minnesota's DWI laws, he also understands that his clients need their rights protected from the increasingly harsh consequences of DWI conviction. Thanks to his passion and dedication, Mr. Meaney has become a force to be reckoned with in DWI defense.

Practice areas

Criminal Defense: DUI/DWI, Criminal Defense

Focus areas


  • 90% Criminal Defense: DUI/DWI
  • 10% Criminal Defense

First Admitted: 1999, Minnesota

Professional Webpage:

Firm News (Newsletters):
  • On April 17, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision of Missouri v. McNeely. This decision has the opportunity to have a direct impact on Minnesota DWI law in years to come. While the extent of the impact is not yet known, we will be arguing that that this decision could be the death knell for Minnesota’s harsh Test Refusal criminal statute. We also believe that this decision will change the way police officers conduct testing procedures during DWI arrests, although the early response from prosecutors and law enforcement is that the McNeely decision only applies to blood tests taken without the driver’s consent. If you are facing a DWI or Test Refusal charge, contact our office at (612) 213-2475 to discuss how this case will help your defense. Meaney & Patrin has recently been using this issue in criminal DWI cases to assist with negotiation of favorable outcomes. Now that we have the decision, we will continue to aggressively apply it to many of our pending and future cases to seek out favorable reductions in charges and/or penalties. We anticipate conducting contested hearings in various counties throughout Minnesota in an effort to lead the charge in the wide application of the McNeely decision to all DWI and Test Refusal cases. Why does the McNeely decision have such a profound impact on Minnesota specifically? It is helpful to review a little bit of recent history to understand why. The broad issue addressed by the McNeely decision is whether an officer is conducting a “search” protected by the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and if so, does the officer need a warrant to conduct that search? Defense attorneys waged this battle for years until the Minnesota Supreme Court issued the decision in State v. Shriner in 2008. The Shriner case involved an officer’s blood draw from an individual without her consent after she had been in an accident with injuries and was suspected of being impaired. The driver argued that the blood draw was an illegal search performed without a warrant and without her consent. The Minnesota Supreme Court held that the natural dissipation of alcohol in the driver’s bloodstream created a “single factor exigency” that justified the search being conducted without a warrant. The Court was careful to limit its holding only to situations involving accidents with injuries: “Consequently, we conclude that when officers have probable cause to believe a defendant has committed the offense of criminal vehicular homicide or operation under Minn.Stat. § 609.21, it is important that the defendant’s blood be tested within 2 hours of the accident causing injury to or the death of another. With every passing minute, the most probative evidence of this crime is subjected to destruction by the body’s natural processes. The rapid, natural dissipation of alcohol in the blood creates single-factor exigent circumstances that will justify the police taking a warrantless, nonconsensual blood draw from a defendant, provided that the police have probable cause to believe that defendant committed criminal vehicular operation.” After that decision was released, defense attorneys continued to argue that warrants were needed in more “routine” DWI investigations that did not involve injuries. Prosecutors and law enforcement disagreed and sought to extend the analysis of the Shriner decision to all DWI investigations. Eventually, the Minnesota Supreme Court sided with the prosecutors in the decision of State v. Netland in 2009. The Netland case was a criminal Test Refusal case where the driver challenged the constitutionality of the Test Refusal criminal statute. The basic argument was that it was unfair and unconstitutional for the State to threaten a driver with criminal sanctions for refusing to submit to a search of the driver’s alcohol concentration, because an individual has the right under the Fourth Amendment to refuse to consent to a search and force the officer to get a warrant. The only way the State could avoid having the Test Refusal criminal statute being found unconstitutional was if the State could convince the Minnesota Supreme Court that a warrant is not needed in a routine DWI investigation. They argued that the limited “single factor exigency” warrant exception from the Shriner decision should be extended to ALL DWI investigations, not just DWI’s involving injuries, and the Court agreed. With the release of the Netland opinion in 2009, the search warrant argument died in Minnesota DWI cases. Officers were authorized in every DWI situation to conduct the search for alcohol concentration without even attempting to get a warrant. Defense attorneys strongly disagreed with the Shriner and Netland decisions, but those cases were the law of the land in Minnesota. But the case of Missouri v. McNeely tackled the issue of whether the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream, by itself, should be a “single factor exigency” that justified bypassing the search warrant requirement in all DWI cases. The Missouri Supreme Court decided that this single factor should not be enough by itself to absolve officers from getting a warrant. The Missouri Supreme Court also noted the split of authority on this issue in a few different jurisdictions across the country, including the Shriner and Netland cases in Minnesota. The prosecutors asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the issue, and it agreed to do so. On April 17, 2013, the McNeely decision was released and it held that the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream is not automatically enough to bypass the search warrant requirement in every DWI situation. Rather, the State needs to prove that the totality of the circumstances of an individual case created enough of an exigency to justify conducting the search without a warrant. This was the result that DWI defense attorneys had been arguing for in Minnesota before the Shriner and Netland decisions came out! The McNeely decision overturns the holdings in Shriner and Netland, leaving a void to refill with more litigation from both sides. While the McNeely case involved a blood test conducted without a warrant and without consent, the principle has now been made clear that the natural dissipation of alcohol in the body is not enough by itself to justify a warrantless search for alcohol concentration after a DWI arrest is made. It is also clear that the search warrant analysis always applies in any DWI investigation, and the State must prove that an exception to the warrant requirement was present if an officer conducts a search without a warrant. Prosecutors are scrambling to limit the holding of McNeely to only nonconsensual blood test cases, which are rare in Minnesota. Officers have been advised to continue with business as usual, a risky gamble that could lead to even more litigation moving forward while the two sides hash out the extent and scope of the McNeely decision in Minnesota. Remember in the Netland case when prosecutors asked the Minnesota Supreme Court to extend the limited Shriner holding to ALL DWI cases? Now they are arguing for the exact opposite, that the McNeely case should be strictly limited to nonconsensual blood test only, even though the McNeely case has no language expressly limiting it like the Shriner decision had. It is important to note that the U.S. Supreme Court has specifically stated in a previous case that blood, breath and urine tests are all protected searches under the Fourth Amendment because each type of test involves intrusion into the body or invasion of personal privacy. The McNeely case only mentions the intrusion of a blood draw because the facts of McNeely only involved a blood draw. There is no language expressly limiting the McNeely holding to nonconsensual blood tests only. Prosecutors also argue that most alcohol content searches are only conducted after the driver consents to the search, which is another exception to the warrant requirement. This is where things get really interesting in Minnesota specifically. As mentioned earlier, Minnesota is one of only a handful of States with a criminal sanction for refusing to submit to an alcohol concentration test. Minnesota law requires officers to inform drivers of this criminal penalty just before asking the person to submit to the test. Given Minnesota’s unique criminal sanction, defense attorneys have argued that any “consent” given after being threatened with a crime if consent is withheld should not be considered valid voluntary consent for the officer to conduct the search. It is easy to see why this “consent” is not freely given when you consider the same legal framework applied to a search of a person’s home. If an officer came to your front door and informed you that refusal to allow a search is a crime, then asked for your consent to search, there is no way that anyone would consider that “consent” to be voluntarily given. Back when the Shriner and Netland decisions were pending, prosecutors had already tried to use the consent angle to convince the courts that a search warrant was not needed in DWI cases. Rather than using consent to justify these warrantless searches, the Minnesota Supreme Court purposely left the consent argument for another day and used the “single factor exigency” angle instead to justify the warrantless searches. Now that the McNeely case has nullified the single factor exigency standard, Minnesota goes back to square one. Prosecutors are returning to their old arguments, as are defense attorneys, regarding the quality of the consent given prior to conducting these warrantless searches. How the appellate courts will interpret this issue remains to be seen, but Meaney & Patrin will be leading the battle. Another note should be mentioned here about Minnesota’s Test Refusal crime. Now that the McNeely decision has made it clear that the search warrant analysis of the Fourth Amendment applies to all DWI arrests, shouldn’t an individual have the right to refuse to submit to a search and thereby force the officer to obtain a search warrant? Under current Minnesota law, an individual who refuses to submit to the search is charged with the crime of Test Refusal and DWI, and the officer makes no attempt to get a warrant at all. The refusal to submit to the search is the final step in the process and the search is simply never conducted because the officer can fall back on the (usually) more serious criminal charge of Test Refusal instead of respecting the individual’s exercise of the Fourth Amendment right to be free from warrantless searches. Will the criminal Test Refusal statute continue to be found constitutional in the face of the McNeely decision? Again, this will be another major battle that Meaney & Patrin will be fighting across the State of Minnesota. The road ahead will be interesting, and hopefully the rights of the individual will be strengthened when the dust settles in Minnesota this time., The McNeely Case and its Impact on MN DWI Law
Verdicts/Settlements (Case Results):
  • State of Minnesota v. Paul Scott Demars and Tracey Ernest Wiberg v. Commissioner of Public Safety are just examples of Ethan Meaney's commitment to quality DWI representation.  Demars involved a case where the driver was sitting in his car out in the parking lot of his apartment complex and the police arrested him because they believed he was suspicious.  The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's dismissal of the charges finding that the police lacked a basis for arresting Demars.  In Wiberg, the driver was denied his opportunity to consult with an attorney and his alcohol revocation was dismissed.  While the police stood by and watched, Wiberg called his girlfriend to find his attorney's number.  When she couldn't find the number, Wiberg hung up the phone and was asked to take a breath test without the police ever providing him phone books to look for his attorney's phone number.  The Court of Appeals reversed the district court's finding that no violation had occurred and dismissed Wiberg's alcohol revocation.
Bar/Professional Activity:
  • Member, Hennepin County Bar Association
  • Minnesota, 1999
  • Member, Minnesota State Bar Association
Educational Background:
  • Northern State University, Aberdeen, South Dakota, B.S. in Criminal Justice & Political Science, Magna Cum Laude, 1996, 1996
  • Juris Doctorate from the University of South Dakota School of Law., 1999
Scholarly Lectures/Writings:
  • The level of blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of driving is used as evidence that a person was driving while intoxicated (DUI). It is illegal in all states to drive if your BAC level is 0.08% or higher. If you’re a minor, then the legal limit is 0.02%. Because BAC establishes whether a person is guilty of DUI and also the severity of penalties in some states, getting an accurate reading is imperative. Determining BAC If you’re pulled over by a police officer for a DUI, the officer will likely request that you blow into the breathalyzer to get a BAC reading for you. A breathalyzer attempts to measure the amount of alcohol expelled by the air in your lungs. The alcohol in the air you breathe out is assumed to be at the same concentration as the alcohol in your blood. However, many people have shown that the results of a breathalyzer test are very often inaccurate. Find out more about flaws in breathalyzer testing (  The other way to gauge BAC is using a blood test. Blood is drawn from the subject (usually at the police station after arrest), which is then tested for the amount of alcohol in it. Blood tests are almost always more accurate than breath tests since the alcohol is measured directly from the subject's blood instead of secondhand from the subject’s breath. This doesn’t mean that blood tests are infallible, however. Read more on blood tests ( DUI Penalties In some states, there is only one level of penalty if you register a BAC level of 0.08% or more in a DUI as a first time offender. Penalties will vary depending on which state you’re in, so be sure to check your particular state’s laws. DUI penalties can look something like this for a first conviction: - Possible jail time (max. of 1 year) - Fines: $300 - $2500 - Mandatory substance abuse program attendance - Driver license suspension of 60-90 days Graded DUI Charges/Penalties Based on BAC Other states have graded levels of DUI charges depending on your BAC level, which will determine the specific severity of consequences if you’re convicted. This means that if your BAC level is extremely high, then your penalty will also be much worse than it would be if you had a lower BAC level.  These states typically have three tiers of DUI charges. Each state’s laws have variations, so your state may have slightly different penalties or definitions. Keeping that in mind, here’s a typical breakdown of how a state with three tiers of DUI offenses often defines them (for first time convictions).  General impairment: BAC between 0.08% and 0.099%    A general impairment DUI charge usually counts as a misdemeanor and tends to carry relatively light penalties, such as fines less than $500, probation ranging from six months to a year, and substance abuse program attendance.  High rate of BAC: BAC ranges from 0.10% to 0.159%    A high rate DUI charge has somewhat more serious penalties associated with it. Penalties in different states can approximate these: driver license suspension for a year, jail time anywhere from 2 days to 6 months, fines ranging from $500 to $5000, and substance abuse program attendance.  Highest rate of BAC: BAC is 0.16% or more   Penalties for highest rate BAC charges can include driver license suspension for a year, jail time of 3 days to 6 months, fines ranging from $1000 to $5000, and substance abuse program attendance.  Always remember that DUI punishments vary state to state, so check your state’s laws regarding definitions and sentencing., Staff Pick, DUI Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), AVVO Legal Information Network, DWI/DUI, 2010
  • While a DUI conviction on your record may not exactly ruin your life, it definitely will affect you adversely for a very long time. Anything that requires a background check, like applying for a job, school, or professional licenses, will reveal your DUI conviction. Ideally, you would only be evaluated on your capability of doing your job, but the stigma of a DUI conviction can be difficult to overcome.  However, in some states you may be eligible for a DUI expungement (or a DUI vacation), which can be hugely beneficial to you. A DUI expungement seals your DUI conviction legally, which basically makes your criminal record seem like the conviction never happened. How expungement works If you meet the eligibility requirements of your state, then you’ll be allowed to withdraw your original guilty plea and enter a not guilty plea, or if you originally pleaded not guilty the court will set aside your guilty verdict. The court will then dismiss all accusations, and you’ll be released from all penalties.  All records for that conviction are isolated and sealed from everyone (most of the public) except legal courts and law enforcement. Records to be sealed include more than just evidence of your conviction; they also include things like your arrest report, complaints, processing records, photographs, and judicial dockets.  If your expungement is successful, you’re allowed to deny the existence of that conviction on job, school, and other applications. If that was the only conviction on your record, after expungement you can lawfully state that you haven’t been convicted of any crime.   One limitation of expungement is that it doesn't erase convictions that are priors. For example, if you have your first DUI expunged, but you're subsequently convicted of a second DUI, then you will be subject to the full elevated penalties of a second DUI. The first conviction, despite being expunged, still counts as a prior DUI. Expungement eligibility Before you engage the services of an attorney to petition for expungement, you may first want to check whether you even meet your state’s eligibility requirements for it. If you aren’t eligible for expungement, then there’s little an attorney can do for you.  States vary on expungement eligibility. In general, here are the most common requirements: - Applicant fulfilled all probation conditions (fines, community service, alcohol education programs, jail time, etc.) - Original sentence did not include time in state prison - Only one conviction on record, Staff Pick, DUI Expungement, AVVO Legal Industry, DWI/DUI, 2010
  • KnowledgeYour DWI lawyer should be familiar with the city and county of your offense and should know how that jurisdiction treats DWI cases like yours. Your DWI lawyer should also know the current DWI statutes and case law, which changes all the time. Finally, your DWI lawyer should take the time to know about your situation so the goals of your case suit your individual needs.StrategyDWI cases are not easy to win, and the justice system is not about to do any favors for DWI offenders in today's anti-DWI society. An effective strategy is one that preserves every possible opportunity to impact the various penalties you will be facing. That is the key to superior DWI Defense Strategy: preserving and taking advantage of opportunities. Whether it is for purposes of arguing the issues of your case, negotiating a settlement, or controlling the timing of the penalties you will be facing, a solid strategy will help you come out of this with as little damage as possible.DedicationYour DWI lawyer needs to devote an adequate amount of time and resources to your defense. You do not want to hire an attorney that you are comfortable with and then have your case handled by someone else. You do not want an attorney that does not take the time to explain the ins and outs of your case to you every step of the way. You DO want a DWI lawyer who is passionate about defending DWI cases, not one who handles a few DWI cases as part of a hodgepodge case load., DWI Defense Strategy, AVVO Legal Industry, DWI/DUI, 2009
  • What is igntion interlock?The ignition interlock device sits under the console or dashboard of your car and is connected to a blow tube that looks very much like a cell phone. To start the car equipped with an ignition interlock device, the driver must blow into the tube and hum for a certain period of time. If there is no alcohol detected from the driver's breath, the car's ignition will start and is ready for use. However, the driver is not done blowing. As the car is being driven, the device prompts the driver to blow into the tube every 15 minutes. These repeated blows are commonly known as "rolling tests" which make it harder for the driver to cheat the device. Minnesota devices require a camera to take pictures of the driver blowing into the device at these 15 minute intervals. While not perfect, these devices are certainly here to stay and preliminary research indicates that recidivism is less than 10 percent.HOW MUCH DOES THE IGNITION INTERLOCK COST?The ignition interlock device requires a minimum $90 installation fee plus a $3-5 per day fee while in use, depending on which vendor is used., Ignition Interlock, AVVO Legal Industry, DWI/DUI, 2011
  • Phase I- The Criminal SideMost DWI offenders in Minnesota are first time violators with a blood alcohol range between .08 and .19.  If you find yourself in this situation then you are looking at a misdemeanor offense.  The penalty for a misdemeanor ranges from 0-90 days in jail and $0-$1000 fine, or both.  If you are convicted of a first time misdemeanor DWI it is highly unlikely that you will do any jail time.  Community service and a relatively minimal fine of $300 is the norm.  Now if you have more than one DWI offense within a 10 year period, then you will be looking at a gross misdemeanor offense.  The penalty for a second time offender ranges between 30 to 365 days in jail and a $900 to $3000 fine, or both.  For a third time violator, the range is 90 to 365 days in jail, and the fine is usually the same.   For those who receive 4 DWIs within ten years, it is a felony with the potential for prison time but at a minimum 180 to 365 days in jail and a fine between $300 to $14,000, or both.Phase II- The Civil SIdeIf you are a first time DWI offender with a blood alcohol range between .08 and .19, you will receive an alcohol license revocation on your driving record and lose your driving privileges for 90 days.  You can receive a work permit after 15 days.  If you have 2 DWIs within a 10 year period and your blood alcohol range is between a .08 and .19, your license revocation will be for 180 days and a work permit after 90 days.  If your blood alcohol range is .20 or higher, then the time frame doubles.  If you have 3 DWIs within a 10 year period, or 4 within a lifetime, your license will be canceled for a minimum of one year and you will be placed on a B-Card (no use of alcohol restriction) if and when you obtain driving privileges again.  If you refuse testing, you automatically lose your driving privileges for one year regardless of the number of offenses you have.  With a first offense that is a refusal the work permit can be had in 15 days, if it is a second offense then it is 180 days., DWI Made Simple, AVVO Legal Industry, DWI/DUI, 2009
Pro bono/Community Service:
  • Mr. Meaney is involved in the AVVO legal community and frequently (daily) volunteers his time to answer questions for those faced with DWI/Criminal defense quetions. It is very time consumming but an important component of his practice. He believes everyone should have access and the opportunity to speak with an experienced DWI/criminal defense attorneys in their time of need.   , 2013
  • Recognized by the AVVO legal network for contributions to those in need in the area of DWI criminal defense. , Top Contributor, AVVO Legal Network, 2013
  • The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers in an invitation-only national organization composed of America’s Top Trial Lawyers. Membership is extended solely to the select few of the most qualified attorneys from each state who exemplify superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature and profile as civil plaintiff or criminal defense trial lawyers.  It is the mission of The National Trial Lawyers to provide networking opportunities, advocacy training, and the highest quality educational programs for trial lawyers., Top 100 Trial Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers, 2013
  • Recognized by the AVVO Legal network for being recognized by his clients in the area of DWI criminal defense., Client's Choice Award, AVVO Legal Network, 2013
  • Selection to America’s Top 100 Attorneys® is by invitation only and is comprised of the nation’s most exceptional attorneys whose accomplishments merit a lifetime achievement recognition. Lifetime Achievement recognition among America’s Top 100 Attorneys® is meant to identify and promote the most outstanding and impactful legal talent currently serving throughout the nation. Only 100 attorneys in each state* will receive this honor and be selected for Lifetime Achievement Membership among America’s Top 100 Attorneys®. Selection is not achieved based on a single accomplishment or a single great year of success, but rather on a lifetime of hard work, ethical standards, and community enriching accomplishments that are inspiring among the legal profession. This honor is not given every year, or every 10 years; it is given but once-in-a-lifetime. To help ensure that all attorneys selected for membership meet the very high standards expected for selection, candidates for lifetime membership are carefully screened through third-party research and statistical analysis based on a broad array of criteria, including the candidate’s professional experience, lifetime achievements, significant case results, peer reputation, and community impact. While selection for any award, honor, or exclusive membership organization is always subjective in nature, we developed our comprehensive multi-phase selection process in an effort to help ensure that only the attorneys whose lifetime achievements extol the legal profession are chosen. With these extremely high standards for selection to America’s Top 100 Attorneys®, less than one-half percent (0.5%) of active attorneys in the United States will receive this honor — truly the most exclusive and elite level of attorneys in the community., Top 100 Attorney's Lifetime Achievement, Top 100 Attorney's Lifetime Achievement, 2017
  • MINNEAPOLIS, MN, June 26, 2013, Ethan P. Meaney, Managing Partner of Meaney & Patrin, P.A., better known as “The DWI Guys” was recognized by Worldwide Who’s Who for showing dedication, leadership and excellence in legal services., Excellence in Legal Service, World Wide Who's Who, 2013
  • A well recognized organization comprised of the nation's most skilled lawyers.  It's purpose is to identify and promote only the most outstanding legal talent throughout the country.  This award recognizes those lawyers with stellar legal credentials with proven commitment to community engagement, leadership, and the highest proffesional standards.  Less than 1.5% of lawyers nationally receive this prestigious recognition. , Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyers in Minnesota, The American Society of Legal Advocates, 2014
Other Outstanding Achievements:
  • Recognized for outstanding legal acheivement in DWI criminal defense by Worldwide Who's Who Legal., 2013
Industry Groups:
  • DWI

Office location for Ethan P. Meaney

4024 151st Avenue NW
Andover, MN 55304

Phone: 612-509-9182


11 Years Super Lawyers
4 Years Rising Stars
  • Super Lawyers: 2014 - 2024
  • Rising Stars: 2007, 2010 - 2012

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