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The penalties for a conviction for driving while impaired (DWI) in Minnesota depend on the specific criminal charge used by the prosecutor. In total, there are four different types of DWI charges. If you’re wondering what is the punishment for DWI in Minnesota, DWI offenses are categorized by degree. They are ranked 1 to 4, so a 4th degree DWI carries lighter consequences than a 1st degree charge.

If you have been arrested under suspicion of DWI, a conviction could turn your life upside down. In addition to the risk of hefty fines and serious jail time, you could also lose out on your right to vote, own a firearm, or drive. Let the attorneys of Gerald Miller advise you on the potential penalties in your case and assist you with developing a sound defense strategy.

Why Aggravating Factors Matter in Minneapolis

Understanding the penalties of a DWI conviction in Minnesota starts with something known as an “aggravating factor.” All DWI charges require the same evidence to establish guilt. However, the potential penalties a person faces upon conviction will depend on how many aggravating factors were present. When asking what is the punishment for DWI in Minnesota, the more aggravating factors you have, the more serious the charges against you.

There are three types of aggravating factors under the law. The first is having a previous DWI conviction in the last ten years. While prosecutors will consider out-of-state convictions, any DWI conviction that is more than ten years old will not count.

The second type of aggravating factor involves your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If your BAC is .16 or higher, it is considered an aggravating factor in your current case.

Finally, the third aggravating factor involves the presence of minors in a vehicle operated by a drunken driver. If there is a person under the age of sixteen in your vehicle at the time you are stopped for DWI, it is considered an aggravating factor.

A 4th degree DWI is for individuals with no aggravating factors. A 3rd degree DWI is used when a person has one aggravating factor. A 2nd degree DWI involves two aggravating factors. A 1st degree DWI is a felony, and ignores aggravating factors. Instead, it is automatically a felony charge when a person has two prior misdemeanor DWI convictions or one prior felony DWI conviction.

Fourth Degree DWI Convictions in Minnesota

There is no minimum jail term for a fourth degree DWI conviction. While misdemeanor does carry a maximum of 90 days in jail, it is not uncommon for the court to suspend these sentences. It also carries a maximum fine of $1,000. A 4th degree DWI can also carry a 90-day suspension of driving privileges and the requirement of an ignition interlock device.

Third Degree DWI Convictions in Minnesota

A 3rd degree DWI is considered a gross misdemeanor in Minnesota. As a gross misdemeanor, a conviction carries up to a year behind bars and a fine of no more than $3,000. At least 48 hours of this sentence must be spent consecutively in jail or a workhouse, while the remainder may be suspended by the court.

Second Degree DWI Convictions in Minnesota

A 2nd degree DWI is also a gross misdemeanor. Like a 3rd degree offense, a 2nd degree DWI also carries up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $3,000. The major different between the two is the mandatory minimum sentence. A 2nd degree DWI requires a minimum of 90 days, with at least 30 of those days spent consecutively in jail or a workhouse.

First Degree DWI Convictions in Minnesota

When asking what is the punishment for DWI in Minnesota, the most severe are for a 1st degree DWI, which is a felony under state law. Instead of time in county jail, a conviction could lead to a sentence in a state penitentiary. The maximum sentence for felony DWI is 7 years in prison and a fine of no more than $14,000.

Reach Out to Gerald Miller About Your DWI Charge in Minneapolis

If you’re asking what is the punishment for DWI in Minnesota, you may want to seek counsel. When you hire an experienced DWI attorney to defend you against a charge for DWI, the ultimate goal is to have your case dismissed entirely. There are a number of other ways your attorney could help, including prevailing at trial or having the severity of the charges against you reduced.

If you are ready to get started building your defense, the attorneys of Gerald Miller can help. Call right away to schedule your free consultation.

Kyle Dreger

Kyle Dreger is a skilled DUI/DWI and Criminal Defense lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. Kyle has received his law degree from the University of St. Thomas School of Law. He is also a professionally trained basketball player.


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