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In Minnesota, the crime of driving while impaired (DWI) is broken down into four different offenses, known as degrees. The severity of each offense depends on the degree of DWI charge you are convicted of. A 1st degree DWI carries the steepest penalties, while a 4th degree DWI carries the lightest. If you’re asking what is 2nd degree DWI in Minnesota, it is usually a misdemeanor unless there are “aggravating factors”.

A 2nd degree DWI offense is the most serious misdemeanor drunken driving offense under state law. If convicted, you could spend time behind bars and face other consequences that can last a lifetime. The good news is that an acquittal or dismissal could avoid any of these consequences. Contact the attorneys at Gerald Miller to learn more about your defense options.

Minnesota DWI Law

In Minnesota, the elements for a DWI charge are the same no matter what degree of DWI a person is charged with. The state must not only prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you drover while impaired, but they must also demonstrate that a higher level of DWI charge is required under the law.

To prove a case of DWI, the prosecutor must establish that you were operating a motor vehicle while impaired by an intoxicating substance like alcohol or drugs. Operating a motor covers more than driving, however. The state needs to show that you were either operating, driving, or merely in physical control of the vehicle. Physical control is a subjective standard, but it covers situations where you have the means to drive at a moment’s notice. Sitting in the driver’s seat of a vehicle with the engine running is often considered physical control of a vehicle.

Next, the state must prove that you are impaired. According to state law, there are seven different circumstances that are examples of impairment. The prosecutor needs to only establish one of these options to gain a conviction. The state can prove impairment by showing:

  • The driver was under the influence of alcohol
  • The driver was under the influence of a controlled substance
  • The driver was under the influence of some type of intoxicating substance they should have known could cause impairment
  • The driver was under the influence of a combination of alcohol, drugs, or some other impairing substance
  • The driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .08 or higher
  • The driver held a commercial license and had a BAC of .04 or higher, or
  • The driver tests positive for any schedule I or II controlled substance or metabolite

How Aggravating Factors Work in Minnesota

If you’re asking what is 2nd degree DWI in Minnesota, you should factor in possible aggravating factors. In DWI cases, the presence or absence of “aggravating factors” will determine the appropriate degree of charge a person faces. A person with no aggravating factors will be charged with 4th degree DWI—the lowest level of offense. The more aggravating factors a person has, the higher the level of the DWI charge they can face. A 2nd degree DWI is the appropriate charge for anyone with two aggravating factors.

There are three types of aggravating factors. They include:

  • A previous DWI conviction in the past 10 years,
  • Recording a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .16 or more, or
  • Having a passenger under the age of 16 in the vehicle during the DWI offense

It is worth noting that not every previous DWI conviction will qualify as an aggravating factor. Only those convictions that occurred in the ten years prior to the arrest in question count. This ten year window is known as a “look back” period.

DWI convictions from other states can also count as aggravating factors. Since every state approaches these offenses differently, any offense that is similar to a Minnesota DWI charge could be counted as an aggravating factor if it falls within the look back period.

Speak with Gerald Miller About Your DWI Case in Minneapolis

Fighting back against a 2nd degree DWI charge is about more than arguing your innocence. In many cases, the strongest defense strategy could result in the prosecution downgrading a 2nd degree DWI charge to a lesser offense. Establishing a prior conviction was outside of the look back period could have a substantial impact on potential criminal consequences. Let the attorneys of Gerald Miller assist you in a thorough review of your defense options. If you are ready to get started, call right away for your free consultation.

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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