In Minnesota, driving, operating, or being in physical control over a vehicle with an alcohol concentration (AC) of .08 (or .04 if driving a commercial vehicle) or higher is an offense called driving while intoxicated (DWI). A driving under the influence (DUI) charge alleges that you were driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant without reference to intoxicant levels. In Minnesota, most people are charged with both.
A first offense can carry serious consequences, but those consequences intensify when you have multiple DWI / DUI convictions. Therefore, those consequences include increase jail or prison time, fines and loss of license depending on the degree of charge. Second, third and fourth degree charges are all misdemeanors, whereas a first degree charge is a felony. Each charge intensifies with added aggravating factors, including prior impaired driving convictions in the past 10 years or prior impaired driving-related losses of license (under implied consent laws). Other aggravating factors include an AC of .16 or more or having a child under 16 years old in the vehicle (so long as the charged is not more than three years older than said child).
Minnesota DWI Degrees
A fourth degree DWI is a misdemeanor that is punishable for up to 90 days in jail and/or up to $1,000.00 fine. Typically, fourth degree charges are for a DWI violation without test refusal or any aggravating factors.
A third degree DWI is a gross misdemeanor that is punishable for up to one year in jail and/or a $3,000.00 fine. Third degree charges are for DWI violations with either a test refusal or one aggravating factor.
A second degree DWI is also a gross misdemeanor that is punishable for up to one year in jail and/or a $3,000.00 fine. Second degree charges are for DWI violations with either a test refusal and one aggravating factor or two aggravating factors.
A first degree DWI, or felony DWI, occurs with the fourth or subsequent DWI charge in 10 years or criminal vehicular operation conviction. This is the only DWI degree charge that is a felony and it is punishable for up to seven years in prison and up to a $14,000 fine.
Because prior convictions of DWIs/DUIs count towards aggravating factors, each conviction can significantly increase both the costs and the jail time that result from such convictions.
There are also mandatory minimums for jail or prison time associated with having multiple DWIs. If, within a period of ten years, a person has two DWI offenses, that person must service 30 days incarceration with at least 48 hours in the jailhouse and eight hours of community service per day for each day of the 30 days not served in jail. For the third DWI offense, the offender must serve 90 days incarceration with at least 30 days served consecutively in the local jail. For the fourth offense, the offender must serve 180 days of incarceration with at least 30 days served consecutively in the local jail. And for the fifth DWI offense within a 10 year period, the offender must serve one year of incarceration, with at least 60 days served consecutively in the local jail. The court does have discretion in how portions of the mandatory minimums are spent, such as allowing a port of the non-jail time to be spent under remote electronic alcohol monitoring (REAM) or home detention. The court may sentence the offender to a program of intensive probation for repeat DWI offenders and have the offender to enter the ignition interlock program as a condition of probation.
Having multiple DWI / DUI convictions will have a significant impact on a person’s life. If you or a loved one is facing a DWI and/or DUI charge and need help from an experienced law firm, please contact us for a case evaluation.
Disclaimer: The content of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact Jennifer Speas to discuss the specifics of your case.