While there is no such thing as a minor driving while impaired (DWI) offense under Minnesota law, some convictions carry steeper penalties than others. If you’re asking what is the penalty for the first DWI in Minnesota, there are a few different answers. First-time DWI offenders typically face lighter sentences compared to those with prior convictions on their records. However, the consequences of these convictions could last a lifetime.
If you have been arrested for DWI in Minnesota, a conviction could be problematic for you in a number of ways. Thankfully, these DWI charges are frequently defensible. With the right strategy, you could avoid a conviction entirely depending on the facts of your case. To learn more, talk to Minneapolis DWI defense lawyer at Gerald Miller as soon as possible.
Minnesota DWI Criminal Penalties
Most people facing DWI charges focus their attention on the statutory penalties that come with a conviction. Chief among these penalties is the potential for jail time or a fine.
For most people, a first-time DWI is considered a misdemeanor under the law. This is the lowest level of criminal offense available in the state. A DWI conviction in Minnesota can bring up to 90 days in jail as well as a fine of up to $1,000. While this maximum sentence might sound extreme, there is no minimum sentence for this offense. In fact, most people avoid additional jail time after their initial DWI arrest.
However, there are ways to enhance the penalties associated with a first-time DWI offense. A DWI charge is enhanced to a gross misdemeanor when:
- Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .16 or higher,
- You refused a chemical test, or
- You were arrested with a passenger younger than 16
A gross misdemeanor carries heavier penalties than a regular misdemeanor. If convicted, you could face as much as one year in jail as well as a fine of no more than $3,000. You are more likely to see additional jail time facing a gross misdemeanor compared to a standard misdemeanor.
Administrative Penalties for DWI in Minnesota
There are also administrative penalties associated with a DWI arrest. This second set of proceedings run parallel to your criminal case. Instead of facing a judge in a courtroom, your administrative case is administered by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
An adverse decision on the administrative level will not result in jail time or fines. Instead, this process focuses on your driving privileges. While the criminal justice system moves slowly, these hearings typically occur much faster.
Every person arrested for DWI faces an immediate suspension of their driving privileges by the Department of Public Safety. If a driver fails to request a hearing, this suspension will go into effect quickly. Typically, the Department of Public Safety will revoke the license of a person facing a DWI charge for 90 days. The length of the revocation increases to 1 year in cases where the driver’s BAC results was .16 or if there was a passenger under the age of 16 in the car.
It is possible to contest not only your criminal charges but also your administrative suspension as well. Talk to your attorney to determine if they will assist you with both cases.
Collateral Consequences of DWI
In addition to the consequences written into state law, there are also collateral consequences for a criminal conviction. These consequences are especially common in DWI cases.
Unlike a felony, a misdemeanor DWI conviction will not cost you your constitutional rights related to voting or gun ownership. However, a conviction on your record could hurt your chances of obtaining a job or an apartment. Landlords and employers run criminal background checks for their applicants, and they are under no obligation to hire a person with a criminal record. The stigma associated with a DWI conviction can result in additional challenges.
Discuss Your Case With a Minneapolis DWI Defense Lawyer
Are you asking, What is the penalty for the first DWI in Minnesota? Never forget that the potential penalties that come with a DWI conviction are just that—potential. If you are never convicted, you will never have to face the jail time, fines, and license suspension that a guilty verdict will bring about.
The attorneys of Gerald Miller have a long track record of taking on DWI cases and winning. If you have been arrested for DWI in Minnesota, let our team fight for your rights. Call right away to schedule a free consultation.