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Understanding Your DWI Charges

Last updated on January 17, 2023

When all is said and done, there is no other type of criminal offense like a DWI, where people from all walks of life run the risk of facing criminal charges at some point in their lives. No matter how careful a person is, a relatively small amount of alcohol can result in a person ending up being “over the limit” when it comes to DWI or DUI laws in Minnesota.

If you or a member of your family is facing the prospect of being prosecuted for DWI, it is important that you have a basic understanding of the different levels of DWI charges that a person in Minnesota can face. Armed with this information, you will be in a better position to understand your situation or the circumstances of a family member who is charged with DWI.

The Importance Of Hiring A Minnesota DWI Attorney

Before considering the different levels of DWI charges, it is important for you to understand that the information presented to you at this time cannot take the place of an experienced, reputable, reliable and dedicated Minnesota DWI attorney. The only way you can ensure that your rights will be protected, that your interests will be fully asserted, in a DWI case is through engaging the services of an effective Minnesota DWI attorney.

In this regard, the DWI attorneys at Meaney & Patrin stand ready to provide you the powerful representation you must have when charged with any type of DWI case. Therefore, in addition to reviewing the information and resources that are provided for your general consideration at this website, we invite you to contact our firm directly today to set up an appointment for an initial consultation.

Driving While Intoxicated Law In Minnesota

There are four levels or degrees of DWI charges in Minnesota. In our discussion of these four types of DWI cases, the degrees of DWI are presented from the least significant to the most severe.

Fourth-Degree DWI

A fourth-degree DWI is a misdemeanor. A person can be charged and convicted of a fourth-degree DWI in circumstances in which that individual has had no other driving while impaired violation within 10 years preceding the current charge. Additionally, an individual charged with this degree of DWI must have agreed to take an Intoxilyzer test or a blood or urine test. Finally, there must be no aggravating factors associated with the circumstances surrounding the arrest.

A person convicted of fourth-degree DWI can face up to 90 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.

Third-Degree DWI

A third-degree DWI is a gross misdemeanor. A person can be charged and convicted of a third-degree DWI in circumstances in which that individual has had one other driving while impaired violation in the past 10 years. A person can also be charged with this degree of DWI if he or she refuses to undertake an Intoxilyzer test or blood or urine test at the officer’s direction. Finally, a person can be charged with third-degree DWI if one of the various aggravating factors is found to exist.

A person convicted of third-degree DWI can face up to one year in jail and up to a $3,000 fine, and often a mandatory minimum jail sentence will be required by statute.

Second-Degree DWI

A second-degree DWI is a gross misdemeanor. A person can be charged and convicted of a second-degree DWI in circumstances in which that individual has had two other driving while impaired violations in the past 10 years. A person can also be charged with this degree of DWI if he or she has one prior case during the past 10 years and refuses to take the Intoxilyzer test or blood or urine test. A person can be charged with second-degree DWI if the individual refuses to take the tests mentioned a moment ago and if one of the various aggravating factors is found to exist. Finally, a person can be charged with second-degree DWI if two aggravating factors exist.

A person convicted of second-degree DWI can face up to one year in jail and up to a $3,000 fine. Second-degree charges also give the police and prosecutor the ability to seize the vehicle used to commit the second-degree DWI, but this can also be challenged.

First-Degree DWI

A first-degree DWI is a felony. A person can be charged and convicted of a first-degree DWI in circumstances in which that individual has had three prior driving while impaired incidents in the past 10 years. A person also can be charged with and convicted of a first-degree DWI if he or she has been charged with a prior felony or first-degree DWI at any time in the past. Finally, a person can be charged with and convicted of a first-degree DWI if that individual has a prior conviction for criminal vehicular operation. Other aggravating factors are not taken into consideration in regard to a first-degree DWI case.

A person convicted of first-degree DWI can face up to seven years in prison and up to a $14,000 fine. First-degree charges also give the police and prosecutor the ability to seize the vehicle used to commit the first-degree DWI, but this can also be challenged.

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