Monday, April 4, 2011

Minnesota DWIs - Charging (Explained)

In the State of Minnesota there are four degrees of Drunk Driving. Generally speaking, the penalties for a Minnesota DWI are based upon the number of aggravating factors present at the time the crime was allegedly committed.

Aggravating factors include:
  • A blood, breath or urine test showing an alcohol concentration of .20 or more as measured at the time, or within two hours of driving, operating or being in physical control of a motor vehicle;
  • The presence of a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle - at the time of your arrest, if the child is more than 36 months younger than the driver; and/or
  • qualified prior impaired driving incident - within ten years of the date of the new offense.
Qualified prior driving incidents include both: (i.) prior DWI convictions, and (ii.) prior impaired driving-related losses of one's driver's license or operating privileges. 

For separate "driving incidents" - those could involve convictions in any kind of motor vehicle - including a passenger motor vehicle, a Head Start bus, a commercial motor vehicle, an airplane, a snowmobile, an all-terrain vehicle, an off-road recreational vehicle, or even a motorboat.

Prior impaired driving-related losses of license include - Implied Consent revocations. An example of this might be - someone was arrested for a DWI and lost their driver's license; but, the DWI criminal charges were eventually plead down (to something like Careless Driving,) dismissed outright by the government and/or the person charged won at trial.

So, How will you Be Charged? 
  • If there were zero factors are present at the time of arrest, then you will be charged with a 4th Degree DWI - a Misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is a fine of $1,000 and/or a 90 day jail sentence.   
  • If one factor is present then you will be charged with a 3rd Degree DWI - a Gross Misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is a fine of $3,000 and/or a 1 year jail sentence. 
  • If two factors are present then you will be charged with a 2nd Degree DWI - a Gross Misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is also a fine of $3,000 and/or a 1 year jail sentence.   
Also, if this is your Fourth DWI arrest - over a 10 year period - you could be charged with a 1st Degree DWI - a Felony. The maximum penalty is 7 years in prison and/or $14,000 fine.

Confused? You're not alone.

I do this everyday - and there are still times that it still sounds like Greek to me. 

That being said, you can make sure that you get the information you need - and the best defense possible against these charges by speaking to an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney.

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