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What Happens When You Get a DWI in Minneapolis?

Prosecutors throughout Minnesota aggressively pursue driving while impaired (DWI) charges. Due to the public outcry regarding these cases, it is not unusual for the state to seek substantial penalties upon a conviction – especially in cases that involve a repeat offender. So what happens when you get a DWI in Minneapolis? It depends on the class of DWI, but the consequences will almost certainly be disruptive to your life.

If you are convicted of DWI, you can expect your life to change for the worse in a number of ways. Some of these consequences might be temporary, but many have the potential to last a lifetime.

The good news is that your arrest for DWI does not guarantee your conviction. With a strong defense and the right Minneapolis DWI Defense lawyer by your side, you can obtain a favorable outcome in your DWI case. To learn more about your defense options, contact the attorneys of Gerald Miller right away.

You Risk Jail Time in Minnesota

The potential for jail time is the primary concern of most people arrested for DWI. Depending on a series of aggravating factors, the jail term that comes with a DWI conviction could be substantial.

For most first-time offenders, their stay in jail immediately following their arrest will be the only time they spend behind bars. Other circumstances could see those potential penalties increase, however. In some cases, a DWI can carry a minimum jail term.

One of the primary factors that can impact the jail term you might serve is your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of your arrest. Your BAC is a measure of the amount of alcohol within your bloodstream. If your BAC registers at .16 or above, you could face steeper penalties.

Another important factor that determines your potential sentencing range is the number of prior DWI convictions you have accrued. The state will not count all of your previous misdemeanor convictions, but only those that occurred in the 10 years preceding this arrest. With enough previous arrests, you could face a felony charge as well as the lengthy prison terms that come with a conviction.

You Face Substantial Fines

On top of a jail term, you also risk monetary fines upon conviction for DWI. Because we’re experienced DWI Defense attorneys in Minneapolis, we know these fines top at $1,000 for the lowest level misdemeanor. For the highest level of misdemeanor, you could face a minimum fine of $900 and a maximum fine of $3,000. While the court has the power to waive these fines due to financial hardship, there is no guarantee that will occur in your case.

The fines that come with a felony DWI conviction are much steeper. The court has the power to levy a fine of up to $14,000 on top of any jail time they might also order. This is on top of any court costs, license suspension fees, or restitution the court could order.

You Lose Your Driving Privileges

A DWI conviction also results in the loss of your driving privileges. The amount of time you could be without a driver’s license depends on the severity of the charge. While first-time offenders could face a 90-day suspension, it could stretch to as much as two years for higher-level misdemeanors.

For a third or fourth DWI conviction, the state will cancel a driver’s license as “inimical to public policy.” Getting a license back after this cancellation due to a third DWI can be challenging. It can take years of alcohol testing and ignition interlock device use before the courts will agree to reinstate the license in full. This suspension could last up to six years in cases of a fourth offense.

You Could Face Unexpected Costs

Fines are not the only financial cost that can come with a DWI conviction. In fact, you might be surprised at the financial consequences a DWI could bring. In addition to fines, you might also be responsible for your own court costs. These costs could be substantial and must be paid in full.

There are also costs associated with ignition interlock devices. For many people, the only possibility to secure driving privileges in the months or years following a DWI conviction is through installing an interlock in their car. Unfortunately, the court will require you to bear the cost of this installation. If you are required to maintain this device in your vehicle for several years, it could cost you thousands of dollars by the time you are allowed to remove the ignition interlock device.

One benefit of working with the attorneys of Gerald Miller is that our team can help you prepare for what to expect. This could help you avoid unexpected costs and fees associated with your DWI conviction.

You Risk Paying Restitution

One aspect of a DWI conviction that is not often discussed is the potential for restitution. As is the case with a fine, restitution involves a monetary penalty. However, these penalties are not paid to the court. Instead, restitution involves monetary payments to individuals that suffer losses due to your DWI. Typically, this involves a DWI arrest stemming from a vehicle collision.

With restitution, you could be on the hook for a variety of costs. These could include another party’s medical bills, vehicle damage, or other expenses. Even if the other driver is covered by insurance, you could be on the hook for their deductible.

The Government Could Seize Your Car

While unusual, it is possible for the State of Minnesota to seize the vehicle you were operating at the time of your DWI arrest. If the police seize your vehicle under these circumstances, they could sell without giving you the proceeds. What’s more, this seizure could occur before you are ever convicted of a crime. Vehicle forfeiture is most common with felony DWI cases.

While the police can seize your vehicle, you must be convicted before the police can sell it. This means fighting your conviction could be the best opportunity for holding into your car. There are also other requirements you should be aware of. The police will not simply hand your vehicle over after an acquittal. Instead, your attorney must file a petition formally requesting its return. Without doing that, you could still lose your vehicle forever.

The attorneys of Gerald Miller could help you beat the charges against you and avoid forfeiting your motor vehicle. This could mean not only missing out on costly fines or harsh jail time but also securing your own property from forfeiture.

Your Reputation Could Be Damaged

If your primary concern following a DWI arrest is the prospect of time behind bars, that is understandable. However, a DWI could have a negative impact on your personal life long after you serve any jail time.

There is a stigma related to DWI convictions that are not necessarily present with other criminal offenses. While facing an arrest alone could harm your reputation, a conviction could cement the harm that harm.

You Face Collateral Consequences

There are other consequences you might not expect to come with a DWI conviction. These consequences could include:

  • Vehicle forfeiture
  • Difficulty maintaining employment
  • Difficulty obtaining housing
  • Immigration consequences
  • Child custody complications
  • Loss of voting or firearm rights

The major issue with collateral consequences is that there is little you can do to mitigate them. With jail time and fines, the prosecution has some power to alleviate the consequences based on the terms of the plea bargain. With collateral consequences, there is little a prosecutor could promise that would have any impact.

For that reason, you should carefully consider the potential collateral consequences that might come with a DWI conviction. In some cases, these consequences could be enough to consider taking your case to trial—even when the plea offer from the prosecutor is otherwise reasonable. The attorneys of Gerald Miller could advise you on how a plea bargain might impact you in unexpected ways.

Trusted Minneapolis DWI Defense Lawyers of Gerald Miller Can Help

Are you wondering what happens when you get a DWI in Minneapolis? It goes without saying that the consequences of a DWI conviction could be severe. While the steepest penalties are reserved for felony offenses, a misdemeanor also has the potential to result in jail time, fines, and other long-lasting consequences.

Much of what can happen to you following a DWI conviction could alter your life forever. The good news is that many DWI arrests are defensible. If you avoid a conviction through the help of a skilled DWI attorney in Minneapolis, you will not have to face any of the hardships described above. The attorneys of Gerald Miller are ready to review your case and discuss your defense options. Call on (612) 440-4610 right away to schedule your free case evaluation.


This article was originally published on October 16, 2020 and updated on June 23, 2021.

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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