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How Much Jail Time for a DWI in Minneapolis, MN?

There is no guaranteed method to predict the exact amount of jail time a conviction for driving while impaired (DWI) might bring. While the judge that will oversee your case is constrained by minimum and maximum sentences, they have wide latitude in determining the exact penalty you face should you be convicted.

If you’re asking how much jail time for a DWI in Minneapolis and the state of MN, many first-time offenders avoid jail time entirely following a conviction. In cases involving repeat offenders, jail time is often guaranteed. Even when there are mandatory sentences, the court maintains the ability to adjust the severity of these penalties by allowing options like home confinement.

The most important thing to remember is that a DWI conviction is never guaranteed. If you are successful at trial, you will avoid jail time entirely. Let a Minneapolis DWI defense lawyer of Gerald Miller help you plot a course to prevail in your DWI case.

Possible Jail Time for DWI Convictions in Minneapolis and MN

As is the case with most criminal offenses, there are maximum and minimum sentences for every DWI charge under Minnesota law. State law sets an acceptable penalty range, and it is the job of the judge to set the penalty within that range.

It should come as no surprise that the potential penalties increase for individuals with aggravating factors and prior DWI convictions.

  • First Offense. First-time DWI offenders typically face a maximum of 90 days in jail upon conviction. However, that maximum jail term increases to one year in cases where the accused refuses to submit to a chemical test or has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.16 or more. There is no mandatory minimum for this offense, and most first-time offenders avoid additional jail time.
  • Second Offense. The maximum penalties for a second DWI are the same as a first offense. Where these charges differ is in the existence of a mandatory minimum. For a second offense, the judge is required to sentence an offender to 30 days incarceration. That number is misleading however, as the court has the power to suspend all but 48 hours of that sentence in exchange for substantial community service.
  • Third Offense. A third DWI conviction in 10 years is always treated as a gross misdemeanor. This means that the maximum jail term for a conviction rests at 1 year. However, there is also a 90-day minimum term of incarceration in these cases. The court must order at least 30 of those days served consecutively in a county jail or workhouse.
  • Fourth Offense. A fourth DWI in 10 years is always treated as a felony in Minnesota. This means the potential penalties are much higher than with previous offenses. A conviction could carry as much as seven years in state prison. There is also a minimum term of incarceration of 180 days. Of those 180 days, at least 30 must be served consecutively. There is also 5 years of conditional release tied to this offense.
  • Fifth and Subsequent Offenses. Fifth and subsequent DWI convictions are always felonies under state law. Like a fourth offense, fifth and subsequence DWI convictions carry up to seven years in state prison. The minimum term requires one year of incarceration, 60 days of which must be served consecutively. There is also five years of conditional release in these cases.

Minneapolis DWI Consequences Other Than Incarceration

Jail time is typically the most severe consequence of a DWI conviction, but it is not the only one. DWI convictions also carry steep fines as well as the possibility of the suspension of driving privileges.

What is important to remember in these cases is that these consequences only result from a conviction. If your charges are dismissed or you prevail at trial, you can avoid these convictions entirely. A dedicated criminal defense attorney could help you fight back against these charges. Talk to an attorney from Gerald Miller to discuss potential defense strategies in your case.


Monetary fines also play a role in a DWI conviction. These fines come with a potential range of penalties including a maximum amount for each offense. It is up to the judge to hand down a fine that falls within the maximum allowed by law. In general, more prior convictions for DWI will result in a higher maximum fine.

For a first-degree DWI, a conviction carries a fine of up to $1,000. Because a second-degree or third-degree DWI is a gross misdemeanor, these offenses carry higher potential fines. At most, they can bring up to $3,000 in fines for a conviction.

The fines become substantial for fourth and subsequent DWI convictions. This is due to the fact that these offenses are felonies under the law. A felony DWI carries a maximum fine of $14,000 on top of the other penalties authorized by statute. This is more than 14 times the maximum fine a first-time offender could face.


Another financial factor for some DWI cases is restitution. Restitution is similar to a fine in that it is a monetary penalty applied by the court. Instead of being paid to the court however, restitution is paid directly to another individual. For DWI cases, restitution is common in cases involving motor vehicle accidents. With restitution, the court could require you to pay for the cost of the other driver’s medical bills or damage to their car. Even if the other driver is insured, you could still be forced to cover their insurance deductible or out-of-pocket expenses. This is in addition to any fine levied by the court.

License Suspension

The loss of driving privileges is also an important factor in DWI cases. Every DWI—from a first-time offender to a felony case—will lead to a license revocation upon conviction. It is worth remembering that an attorney could help you secure a limited work permit license that allows you to drive to work or school during the course of your revocation period. These licenses are never guaranteed, making the guidance of an attorney vital.

For a first-degree DWI, this penalty lasts 90 days. It extends to one year for a second-degree offense and three years for a third-degree offense. A fourth offense brings a revocation period of four years, while fifth and subsequent convictions can lead to as much as six years of license revocation for a driver convicted of DWI.

More Collateral Consequences of DWI in Minneapolis

There are also collateral consequences that come with a DWI conviction. These include anything from the loss of voting rights to the inability to maintain employment.

The severity of the collateral consequences will depend largely on whether the conviction involves a misdemeanor or felony offense. Felonies carry the steepest collateral consequences, including the loss of voting rights or the loss of gun rights.

However, there are a number of collateral consequences that can apply to any DWI conviction. A DWI conviction could have a dramatic impact on your current and future employment. Employers have the right to fire employees or reject applications based on nothing more than their criminal record. Another way a DWI conviction could impact your career is by making it difficult to maintain or secure a professional license. If your employment requires a professional license, a conviction could lead to the licensing body to revoke or suspend that license. This is more likely to occur with felony offenses than misdemeanors. However, virtually all licensing bodies maintain discretion for disciplinary matters.

Child Custody Issues

Another collateral consequence that could stem from a DWI conviction is child custody issues. A criminal conviction of any kind could impact ongoing custody proceedings or result in a new custody case. A conviction for DWI could be especially damaging during a child custody case if a minor child was in the car at the time the arrest was made.

Some criminal convictions—even certain DWI convictions—could impact your immigration status. A conviction for some offenses could even result in removal or deportation proceedings.

Discuss The Prospects of Your DWI Case with a Minneapolis DWI Defense Lawyer

For most people, the cost of a DWI conviction can be steep. If you are charged with a DWI in Minnesota, fighting back against a conviction could be your best option to protect your future and avoid time behind bars.

You never have to face the challenges of a DWI charge alone. The attorneys of Gerald Miller are ready to assist you in developing a defense strategy that could help you avoid a conviction entirely. Call right away to schedule your free consultation.

About the author

Gerald Miller

Gerald Miller is a top-notch and experienced DWI/DUI lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. in Minneapolis, MN. He has more than 35 years of experience in Criminal Defense practice. He has also been a mentor to numerous DUI/DWI defense attorneys.

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