Driving Under the Influence Penalties in Minneapolis
Driving under the influence—or driving while impaired (DWI) in Minnesota—is one of the most serious criminal charges you can face when you are behind the wheel of a car. Like with many offenses, the penalties for this offense can vary.
Driving under the influence penalties in Minneapolis will largely depend on the number of prior convictions you have on your record. However, other factors can also increase the penalties you face. It is important to remember that these penalties only impact you if you are convicted.
A DWI attorney of Gerald Miller is ready to help you fight these charges. We have a track record of success in beating DWI charges, and we look forward to helping you pursue a fair outcome in your case. Reach out right away for a free consultation.
What Impacts DWI Penalties?
Not all DWI cases are the same. For that reason, not every person accused of driving while impaired will face some potential penalty. There are different factors that impact the possible penalties and even the degree of the charges you face. These factors could turn your misdemeanor into a felony or result in a mandatory period behind bars.
When it comes to possible penalties, the most important factor in your DWI case is the number of prior convictions you have. Each prior DWI conviction—whether it occurred in Minnesota or some other state—can enhance the range of penalties you face. For example, your first DWI charge is considered a misdemeanor, while a fifth charge is treated as a felony.
It is worth noting that not every prior DWI conviction will necessarily impact your current case. Minnesota has what is known as a “look back” period. This ten-year period is important, as the prosecutor will only consider misdemeanor convictions that occurred in the look back period. For example, a person with a prior conviction less than a year ago will face elevated penalties upon conviction. A person with a misdemeanor conviction 20 years ago will not.
Also worth noting is that this only applies to misdemeanor convictions. A prior felony DWI conviction will always result in a new DWI arrest being treated as a felony. This is the case no matter how long ago that conviction occurred.
Degree of Intoxication
Most DWI cases in Minneapolis involve a breath test. These tests measure the amount of alcohol in your blood stream, also known as your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). While prosecutors have a few different options for establishing that you were impaired, they typically use the results of your BAC testing to do so.
State law makes it illegal to operate your vehicle with a BAC of .08 or greater. However, the penalties associated with a DWI case increase when your BAC hits a certain threshold. Specifically, you could face greater maximum penalties in your case if your BAC registers at .16 or greater.
Child in the Vehicle
Having a child in the vehicle is another potential factor in the penalties for a DWI conviction. According to DWI law, an individual is a child if they under the age of 16 at the time of the incident. Having a child in the car can not only increase the penalties in a DWI case, but they can involve additional consequences when paired with a BAC more than double the legal limit.
Refusal to Submit
One of the most common ways to enhance penalties in a DWI case is by refusing to submit to chemical testing. In Minnesota, all drivers give implied consent to provide a breath, blood, or urine sample when suspected of driving while impaired. When they refuse to do so, there are additional criminal consequences that can apply. One of those consequences is that a refusal to submit will increase the penalties in a DWI case if it ends in a conviction. In addition to facing more criminal charges, refusing to submit to a chemical test increases a first DWI offense from a misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor.
Understanding DWI Penalties in Minneapolis
The law surrounding DWI convictions and penalties in Minneapolis is complex. However, the basics of a DWI offense are governed by a single statute. That statue can be found at Minnesota Statute Section 169A.20.
First-time offenders generally face the lowest penalties for a DWI conviction. When there are no aggravating factors present, this offense carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a fine of no more than $1,000. Of course, other factors can increase the penalty for a first-time conviction. You could also lose your driving privileges for up to a year depending on the facts of the case.
A second DWI in a ten-year span is always treated as a gross misdemeanor. That means you will face up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $3,000 in all cases. This is true whether or not there are aggravating factors present. The length of your license suspension can vary. Most people see their license revoked for a year, while drivers with a BAC of .16 or higher lose their privileges for two years.
A third DWI is always considered a gross misdemeanor under the law. The penalties for a third DWI in a ten-year span are the same for everyone. It makes no difference how many aggravating factors are present. The maximum penalty is the same as with a second DWI, however, there is a 30-day minimum sentence to be aware of. If you are convicted of a third DWI, your license will be canceled for three years due to it being “inimical to public safety.”
Fourth and Subsequent DWI
Every DWI that follows your third conviction in 10 years is treated as a felony offense. This is an important milestone, as felonies carry much steeper penalties compared to misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors. If you are found guilty of felony DWI, you could spend as much as seven years in state prison. If that wasn’t enough, you could also be facing a maximum fine of $14,000. A felony conviction will also result in your driver’s license being revoked as “inimical to public safety.”
Collateral Consequences for a DWI Conviction
Not all consequences of a DWI conviction are related to the penalties written into the statute. There are other consequences—known as collateral consequences—that occur after a conviction. Some of these consequences are social in nature, while others result from some other legal or administrative procedure outside of the criminal process itself.
The collateral consequences you face will largely depend on whether you are convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony. With a misdemeanor DWI conviction, these consequences are similar to any criminal conviction. You could be fired from your job or miss out on impending employment opportunities. You could also see your housing options limited, as landlords can discriminate based on your criminal record. There is also the social impact of a DWI conviction. These convictions carry the notable social stigmas that can last for many years.
Felonies bring even harsher collateral consequences. In addition to the collateral consequences mentioned previously, a felony could also result in the loss of your constitutional rights. This starts with the right to own, use, or possess firearms. You could also lose your right to vote. Collateral consequences are difficult in that they cannot be mitigated through the terms of a plea bargain.
Talk to Attorney Gerald Miller About Your DWI Case
No one wants to be arrested for or charged with a DWI. Unfortunately for many, these charges are common. A conviction for DWI carries a range of penalties that could impact your life forever. These penalties will only become a reality if you are found guilty, however.
You have the right to fight your DWI charges. In many cases, these efforts are successful. Our firm has successfully defended the accused in DWI cases, and we look forward to doing the same for you.
Do not manage your defense on your own. Before you consider a plea bargain or step foot in a courtroom, let the attorneys of Gerald Miller review your case. Contact us as soon as possible to schedule your free consultation.
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