Every state approaches drunken driving laws differently. Some jurisdictions have a single criminal offense for DWI with sentences that vary in severity. Others have a standard DWI charge that is used for lesser offenses and an ‘aggravated’ DWI charge used for more serious cases. If you’re asking what does aggravated DWI mean in Minnesota, Minnesota law does not make that distinction.
While there is no such offense as aggravated DWI in Minnesota, there is something known as aggravating factor. DWI is an offense that can be enhanced under state law, with certain factors dramatically increasing the potential severity of a conviction.
If you are charged with DWI in Minnesota, it is vital you seek out legal counsel that can fight back against claims that aggravating factors were present in your arrest. Not only could a Minneapolis DWI defense lawyer of Gerald Miller help you develop a defense strategy, they could also work to reduce the severity of the charges against you.
Understanding Aggravating Factors in Minnesota DWI Cases
If you’re wondering what does aggravated DWI mean in Minnesota, there are three different aggravating factors that could be present in a Minnesota DWI case. Understanding each of these factors could help you assist in your defense. The aggravating factors include:
- Prior convictions. Each prior conviction for a DWI or similar offense is considered an aggravating factor as long as it occurred in the 10 years preceding the arrest. Misdemeanor convictions for DWI prior to that 10-year window are not aggravating factors. These convictions could have occurred in Minnesota or a different jurisdiction.
- High BAC. The degree of intoxication will also a play a part in identifying aggravating factors. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .16 or greater, it is considered to be an aggravating factor. This BAC level is twice the legal limit allowable.
- Child Passengers. The third and final aggravating factor involves the presence of a child passenger. The passenger in the vehicle must be younger than the age of 16 to qualify. What’s more, their presence is only an aggravating factor if you are more than 36 months older than the minor passenger.
In addition to these formal aggravating factors, there is another factor that can also impact your DWI case. While it is not technically an aggravating factor, its presence can impact your conviction in a similar way. If you refused to submit to a chemical test following a DWI arrest, you will face heightened maximum penalties.
What Happens When Aggravating Factors Are Present?
Aggravating factors in MN generally increase the potential penalties that come with a DWI. In most cases, the more of these factors are present, the higher the potential sentence might be. In general, the number of aggravating factors will affect your misdemeanor DWI case in the following ways:
- No aggravating factors. If there are no aggravating factors, your case will be treated as 4th-degree DWI. This is the lowest tier of DWI offense allowable under state law. A conviction could lead to as much as 90 days in jail.
- One aggravating factor. The presence of a single aggravating factor will elevate a DWI offense to a gross misdemeanor. A conviction for a gross misdemeanor carries up to a year of jailtime.
- Two aggravating factors. The highest level of misdemeanor DWI is 2nd degree DWI. You will face this charge if you have two aggravating factors. 2nd degree DWI is also a gross misdemeanor.
It is worth noting that aggravating factors only apply to misdemeanor offenses. When it comes to felony DWI, the only factor that matters is the number of prior convictions within a 10-year window. Four or more misdemeanor DWI convictions or a single prior felony DWI conviction are the only factors that go into turning a misdemeanor DWI into a felony. Factors like your BAC or potential child passengers will have no effect.
Discuss Your Defense Strategy With a Minnesota DWI Attorney
While there is no offense of aggravated DWI in Minnesota, that does not mean the specific facts of your case cannot result in a harsher sentence. Given what is at stake with a DWI prosecution, it is crucial that you rely on legal counsel that knows how to fight back. To learn more about your options, schedule a free consultation with the attorneys of Gerald Miller. Call right away to set up your free initial consultation.