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Minnesota DWI & DUI: Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated on January 17, 2023

Will I go to jail for a DWI/DUI in Minnesota?

The simple answer depends upon how many DWIs you have. If this is your first offense and your BAC is under .20 then the answer is likely no. You will probably be looking at a few days of community service or sentence to service. If you test at a .20 or higher then the likelihood of some in-custody jail increases. If you have a prior DWI conviction or alcohol license revocation within the past 10 years before the current offense, then there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days in jail if you are convicted, of which the first 48 hours must be served in-custody and the remaining 28 days can be done on house arrest. If you have two prior DWI convictions or alcohol revocations within the past 10 years, then the mandatory minimum sentence jumps up to 90 days in jail if you are convicted, of which the first 30 days must be served in-custody and the remaining 60 days can be done on house arrest. If you have three prior DWI convictions or alcohol revocations within the past 10 years then the charge is a felony and quite possibly a minimum of three years in prison if you have enough felony points. But in most cases the sentence is 180 days in jail with 30 days in custody and 150 days on house arrest. More than four offenses in a 10-year period of time will likely mean prison time. For more information on DWIs and penalties go to this websitewww.mndwiguys.com or call us 1-800-DWI-GUYS. We are here to help.

Can You Go To Jail For Your First DUI In Minnesota?

The short answer is maybe. In Minnesota, it depends on a number of factors. First and most noteworthy, Minnesota does not have mandatory minimum penalties for a first-time DWI offender. Thus, the Court is not required by law to impose any jail on a first-time DWI or DUI conviction in Minnesota. Usually in this scenario, the driver will receive no jail or a couple of days of community service sentence to service unless one of the other factors discussed below are also present. Factors that may increase the possibility the Judge will impose jail if you are convicted of a DWI/DUI: first, if you have an alcohol concentration of .20 or more then it becomes more likely that you may do jail time for a DWI or DUI conviction, especially with higher alcohol concentration levels; second, if there was an accident involved and there was damage to property, vehicles or persons then the likelihood of jail increases; third, how cooperative the driver is with the officer can also have an impact on sentencing – the less cooperative you are the more likely the court may impose jail time for a DWI or DUI conviction; and fourth, whether you are already on probation for any other criminal offense(s). This list is not exhaustive by any means but it tends to be the big four when it comes to sentencing a first-time DWI or DUI offender in Minnesota. For more information on DWIs and the possible penalties visit www.mndwiguys.com or call 1-800-DWI-GUYS.

How much does a DUI attorney in Minnesota cost?

Feeling ashamed and overwhelmed at the situation you find yourself in due to a DUI arrest? If that weren’t stressful enough now you are faced with the daunting task of having to find an attorney to assist and navigate you through this new and unfamiliar territory. What to spend on a DUI attorney is a common question most people find themselves asking. You are definitely not alone. I have had many conversations with people in your situation and my response is always the same: good DUI attorneys aren’t cheap and unfortunately cheap attorneys many times aren’t very good. Any important life decision is never made by going the inexpensive route. You should seek out and find the best and most experienced DUI attorney in your area and be prepared to pay their fee. It will be worth it. Often times your career, family, education or friends are riding in the balance. This situation is better handled by professionals. Do not put your most important affairs in the hands of an attorney who is only the most affordable. Make sure your attorney is an experienced DUI attorney and well respected in your community. Believe me, the difference between the two is night and day. I hope you never need a DUI attorney but if you do, make sure you hire the best. Contact the DWI GUYS without delay.

Do I Need An Attorney For A DWI In Minnesota?

Many people wonder after being arrested for DWI whether they need an attorney, especially in situations where they assume they are guilty of the offense anyway. Because the penalties and long-term consequences for DWI are so harsh, the decision to hire a lawyer should not be made solely based on guilt or innocence. An experienced attorney who dedicates his practice to DWI defense can make a huge difference when it comes to reducing the effects of the DWI, while increasing the chances of finding key evidence and knowing specialized issues that can help you beat or reduce the charges against you. It’s not always about proving innocence; most often a superior DWI defense attorney will try to get key evidence suppressed from the case using constitutional and procedural arguments. Your attorney should be someone who stays on the cutting edge of DWI law, which constantly changes depending on rulings from the appellate courts. Knowing which judges to avoid or aim for is also a big part of the defense strategy. It is also extremely important to act quickly after your arrest to decide whether you will hire an attorney for your DWI offense. There are very strict deadlines within which to file challenges to your license revocation, license plate impoundment, and vehicle forfeiture if you want to have an opportunity to effect those civil penalties. You also want to ensure that all of the evidence against you is being preserved and collected, including video and audio recordings, lab test records, and witness statements (911 calls, etc.).As for the cost of hiring an attorney, like anything else it varies depending on the expertise of the attorney and the amount of work expected to be performed. While you may not want to hire the most expensive defense attorney in town, you certainly do not want to hire the cheapest one. I am an award-winning DWI defense attorney who handles cases throughout the State of Minnesota. Give me a call any time to discuss your case and your goals, and I am sure I will be able to assist you. Meaney & Patrin, The DWI Guys

Can I Get A Minnesota DWI Off My Record?

Once you are convicted of a DWI or plead guilty to a DWI in Minnesota, you will not be able to get that conviction removed or expunged from your criminal record. The Minnesota Legislature has severely limited the power of the courts to expunge any criminal records in Minnesota, and there is no power to expunge a DWI license revocation or conviction from your driving record either. This is why you need to pursue every avenue and opportunity to try to prevent the DWI conviction in the first place AND challenge the license revocation immediately after you are arrested. In Minnesota, a person only has 30 days from the date of receiving the notice of license revocation to file a challenge to the revocation and its permanent entry on the driving record. The challenge must be filed in civil court with a filing fee of approximately $325.00 (this varies slightly in some counties), and copies of the Petition must be filed with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office. If any step is completed improperly, or if the Petition is filed beyond the 30-day deadline, it will be thrown out without the ability to make any legal challenges at all to the license revocation. As for the criminal case, appropriate motions must be filed prior to certain points in the case to preserve key constitutional and procedural arguments, and those motions will be heard in front of a judge prior to trial. Typical pretrial motion arguments include challenging the basis for the traffic stop or seizure, the determination of probable cause to arrest for DWI, the vindication of right to counsel prior to testing, and the testing procedure followed by the officer and lab. These pretrial issues are the key to keeping a DWI off your criminal record and driving record, even if you feel you are guilty of the offense. The court will not penalize you for exercising your right to make these challenges, especially when the judges know how limited their power is to expunge your record after the fact. Act now to give yourself every opportunity to keep this incident from remaining on your permanent criminal and driving records. Meaney & Patrin, The DWI Guys

Can I Get My DWI Reduced To Careless Driving In Minnesota?

Prosecutors have a vested interest in convicting you of DWI if you took a test that showed an alcohol concentration at or above 0.08.The biggest reason they want the DWI conviction on your record is to have it available to enhance a future DWI offense to a higher charge if you commit one. When they reduce your charge from DWI to Careless or Reckless Driving, the conviction can no longer be used for enhancement purposes in the future.(However, your related license revocation for testing at 0.08 or more can still be used for this purpose regardless of the outcome of the criminal case.)With that being said, some prosecutors will consider reducing a DWI charge to Careless or Reckless Driving under certain circumstances. The lack of prior offenses, having a test result under 0.10, and the lack of bad driving conduct can all help to convince the prosecutor to do this. Being cooperative with law enforcement on the night of your arrest can also be helpful. It also helps to be proactive before you go to court by getting an alcohol assessment and complying with its recommendations of classes or treatment. However, even with all of these factors in your favor there are many prosecutors who still will not consider reducing your charge. Having an experienced DWI defense attorney with a reputation for litigating good issues can be a big boost to the chances of getting this reduction. As for the judge, he or she has no power to reduce your charges. Only the prosecutor has that power, so having a good working relationship with the prosecutor is the biggest key to getting a DWI charge reduced to Careless Driving. Of course, as mentioned earlier, the enhanceability of the related license revocation on your driving record should also cause you concern. The prosecutor has no power over that part of the case, and neither does the judge. The only way to have that mark removed is to file a separate civil challenge to it in court within 30 days of your arrest. This is best done with a lawyer who specializes in DWI defense to make sure every opportunity is preserved and challenged to keep that mark off your driving record. Meaney & Patrin, The DWI Guys

I’ve been charged with DWI/DUI. Now what do I do?

It is imperative that you are represented by someone who can guide you through this complex and ever-changing area of law, so contact an attorney immediately. After going through the initial traffic stop, field sobriety testing, arrest and testing at the jail/station, it is important to get an attorney involved while everything is still fresh in your mind. It is important that all of the facts are documented from your perspective, just like the officer will be documenting his/her observations from the incident. Contact an attorney immediately to help protect all of your rights.

What should I say if a police officer stops me?

A police officer will look for several things when detecting drunk drivers: difficulty maintaining proper lane position, making wide turns or weaving or speeding, a lack of vigilance or making dangerous maneuvers. Police are also looking for cheap reasons to pull people over at night such as equipment violations, failing to wear a seat belt, failing to signal at least 100 feet from a turn/lane change, etc.

If a Minnesota police officer notices any of these activities, they are likely to pull you over and should this happen, it is important for you to be polite and provide the officer with your registration, insurance card and driver’s license.

It’s worth remembering, however, that you don’t have to answer any questions and do not have to consent to a search of your vehicle or of yourself.

If you do consent to a search, it can present problems for you later in court so if the officer asks you questions, you should simply state that you would like to speak with an attorney before answering any questions.

What is the difference between DUI and DWI?

In Minnesota, there really is no difference. In the past, DUI typically meant driving under the influence. This may or may not include a specific alcohol level. All that is required is that the prosecutor show that the driver was impaired by alcohol. DWI typically means driving while intoxicated. Intoxication is usually defined as a prohibited blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level (.08 in Minnesota) or with the presence of certain controlled substances in the system.

Many years ago, Minnesota changed its statutes to put both of these terms under the umbrella “driving while impaired” so all incidents are categorized as DWI cases. For more information, please go to our Common Terms Used In Drunk Driving Cases page.

What are the penalties for DWI/DUI?

This will depend on the unique facts and circumstances surrounding your case as the courts will take into account the nature of your charge, your BAC level and whether you have been convicted of similar charges in the past. Penalties range from large fines to probation, license revocation court-ordered classes, community service or, in the most serious cases, offenders may face jail, workhouse or lengthy prison sentences.

Can I legally refuse to take a sobriety test in Minnesota?

You are not required by law to take field sobriety tests, and it is often not in your best interest to do so as they prove little, according to studies that suggest that field sobriety tests are not accurate when it comes to proving impairment beyond a reasonable doubt.

Refusing a sobriety test will almost certainly result in your arrest and you will then be asked to submit to an official evidentiary alcohol test (usually breath but sometimes blood or urine). If this then reveals that you’re under the legal limit, it doesn’t matter that you refused field sobriety testing, whereas if you’re over the legal limit, your sobriety test results might be used against you as evidence in court.

Should I tell my employer if I get a DUI/DWI?

Anyone can be charged with DWI, but that charge is not the same as being convicted of a crime. Unless you have a contractual obligation of some kind to your employer or a professional licensing bureau, a DWI charge is not your employer’s business and whether you tell them is entirely up to you.

If your job requires government clearance and part of such clearance is a contractual obligation to disclose to your employer if you are charged with a crime, then it’s advisable that you inform your employer that you have been charged.

How long does a DUI/DWI stay on your record?

In most cases, a first-offense DWI in Minnesota is a misdemeanor, but can be increased to a gross misdemeanor if the driver refuses to comply with a breath test, their blood alcohol content is .16 percent or if a child under 16 is in the car at the time of the arrest. A person with three prior DWI incidents in 10 years can also be charged with a felony level DWI offense.

After a conviction, it is technically possible to get a DWI or DUI off your criminal record under Minnesota’s expungement law, but the courts have been extremely stubborn with this. We have heard of only a handful of cases where expungement of a DWI was granted for highly unusual and extraordinary situations. Your best opportunity to keep a DWI offense off your criminal record is to retain an experienced, aggressive attorney to make the best effort to avoid the conviction in the first place.

Do I lose my license immediately after a DUI/DWI?

Yes, after a seven-day temporary license grace period. You can lose your license, including a commercial driver’s license, because of Minnesota’s Implied Consent Law before you go to court for the criminal case. You can also lose your driver’s license in Minnesota due to a DWI or DUI conviction.

A “Notice of License Revocation” mailed by Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety to you or handed to you at the jail on the night of the incident will trigger this license loss and the length of loss can be anywhere from 90 days to a number of years depending on many factors.

However, you may be able to have your driving privileges reinstated by receiving a worker’s permit or other restricted permit while use of an ignition interlock device may also allow you to drive during a license revocation.

Need Help With A DWI/ DUI Charge?

Contact experienced Minnesota DWI defense lawyers Meaney & Patrin who can help you in this difficult time. No matter what degree of DWI or DUI you are charged with, a criminal defense attorney can develop a strategy for defense that will ultimately lead to a favorable outcome. So call us today at 612-688-2299.