If you were arrested for a Minnesota DWI (driving while intoxicated), an officer believed that you were operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drug(s). The law enforcement officer believed that your motor skills, mental faculties and reaction times were so impaired that you were unable to operate that motor vehicle safely. Driving with a blood alcohol content of .08% or greater is considered per se, or automatically, driving under the influence of alcohol. Minnesota has some of the strictest and most compartmentalized “degrees” of DWI in the country. Below, we have outlined the most important information for you to inform yourself about Minnesota DWI.
Minnesota DWI Penalties
IMPORTANT: MINNESOTA LAW STATES THAT YOU HAVE 30 DAYS FROM YOUR ARREST FOR YOUR ATTORNEY TO REQUEST A DRIVER’S LICENSE HEARING WITH THE MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY. You or your Minnesota DWI attorney must submit a letter requesting your administrative hearing within 30 days of being issued your notice of revocation, or your license will be automatically suspended.
Minnesota DWI punishments are subject to enhanced penalties if it’s found that a number of aggravating circumstances are present during your DWI arrest. These circumstances include, but are not limited to, driving with a BAC in excess of .20%, a prior DWI conviction in the past 10 years, or you had a child present in the vehicle at the time you were DWI.
Fourth Degree DWI – Misdemeanor
This is essentially a first-time DWI, where if no aggravating circumstances are found, you will be charged a $1000 fine and face up to 90 days in jail. Penalties with Minnesota DPS are separate.
Third Degree DWI – Gross Misdemeanor
A third degree DWI is a DWI that includes one (1) of the aggravating factors listed above or you refused all of the chemical testing options. Third degree DWIs are punishable up to a year in jail and a $3000 fine. Minnesota DPS can also confiscate the license plates from your vehicle!
Second Degree DWI – Gross Misdemeanor
A second degree DWI is a DWI that includes two (2) of the aggravating factors listed above, or one (1) aggravating factor and you refused all of the chemical testing options. Third degree DWIs are punished the same as a second degree – up to a year in jail and a $3000 fine.
First Degree DWI – Felony
A first degree DWI is a DWI that includes three (3) or more of the aggravating factors listed above, or two (2) aggravating factors and you refused all of the chemical testing options. A first degree DWI is punishable up to a 5 years in jail and a $10,000 fine. The state can also seek to have your vehicle forfeited with zero compensation paid to you.
Minnesota DWI Lawyers
A DWI arrest does not necessarily mean a DWI conviction. Minnesota DWI attorneys defend DWI offenses and drunk driving cases in Minnesota. Minnesota DWI attorneys will be able to handle both the criminal DWI charges and the case with Minnesota DPS, regarding your license suspension or revocation. Given the complexity of degrees of DWI, it is crucial that you consult with an attorney specializing in Minnesota DWI.
General Information for Minnesota DWI
Breath Test Refusal
If you refuse(d) the breath test in Minnesota, you will lose your driver’s license for one year. In order to get your license reinstated you will need to complete the following: Pass the written DWI / DUI driver’s license test, pay a $680 fee, an additional $18.50 driver’s license fee, and an alcohol treatment assessment.
The “Whiskey Plate”
If this is your second Minnesota DWI within 10 years, you will be required to have “whiskey plates” on every vehicle that you drive. Whiskey plates are license plates that start with a “W”. These plates make it very easy for law enforcement to identify your vehicle as one belonging to a repeat DWI offender. While Minnesota police cannot pull you over for having a whiskey plate – they still need a reasonable and articulable basis for the stop – it does make your vehicle stick out and more likely to get harassed by law enforcement. Each whiskey plate per vehicle costs $100.
The Traffic Stop
If you’re pulled over for suspected DWI, you have the right to speak with an attorney before taking a chemical test. If you don’t have access to an on-call attorney, Minnesota law enforcement is required to provide you with a phone book to contact one. The chemical test is a crucial element in proving your level of intoxication. Consult with an experienced Minnesota DWI attorney before submitting to any testing.