CRIMINAL LAW – DUI & DWI

Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol always results in a criminal charge, the severity of which varies depending on the number of convictions you have on your record. In Minnesota, even convictions from others states count toward this number, and such records will affect your sentence for 10 years.

A first offense DWI is a misdemeanor and can result in up to 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, a 90-day license suspension, and an ignition interlock device being installed on your vehicle, which will keep you from driving (even under a restricted license) until you pass a breathalyzer test.

Second and third offenses are punished in a similar matter, except the severity of the crime increases to a gross misdemeanor, which can result in up to one year of jail time, a $3,000 fine, and a license suspension of 180 days for a second offense and a minimum of one year for a third offense.

If you reach a fourth offense in 10 years, however, your situation may change dramatically. A fourth offense is considered a felony DWI and can result in up to 7 years in state prison, up to $14,000 in fines, and a license revocation period of up to 4 years.

In all such cases, your goal should be to reduce or eliminate your jail time and/or fines and keep any misdemeanor offenses off your record, if possible. While not guaranteed in any particular circumstance, some misdemeanor DWI accusations may be reduced to a “wet reckless” with proper legal representation.

Illegal Level of Intoxication

In Minnesota, as in all other states, the amount of alcohol in a person’s blood is determined by their blood alcohol content (BAC). When an officer administers a breathalyzer test, he or she is checking to see just how intoxicated a driver really is.

So how high does a BAC have to be for a driver to be considered drunk in St. Paul?

Ages 21 and over: 0.08% BAC

Ages 20 and younger: 0.00% BAC

There is no tolerance in Minnesota for any driver under the age of 21 who is caught drinking and driving, regardless of how little alcohol is in the driver’s system.

Driving while intoxicated, one alcoholic drink is considered to be:

  • 12 fl oz beer
  • 5 fl oz glass of wine
  • 1.5 fl oz hard liquor

A person’s height, weight and gender will help determine how fast he or she becomes intoxicated. Smaller people tend to become drunk on smaller amounts of alcohol, and women usually become drunk faster than men. However, every person is different and you should err on the side of caution when deciding to drive after having a drink.

DWI Penalties

The penalties that come with DWIs start high and only go up. Here is what you can expect from your first four offenses:

First Offense

  • As many as 90 days spent in jail
  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • License suspended for as many as 90 days
  • Interlock ignition device must be installed on vehicle

Second Offense

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to $3,000 in fines
  • License suspended for as many as 180 days
  • Interlock ignition device must be installed on vehicle

Third Offense

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to $3,000 in fines
  • License suspended for at least 1 year
  • Interlock ignition device must be installed on vehicle

Fourth Offense

  • Up to 7 years in jail
  • Up to $14,000 in fines
  • License suspended for as many as 4 years
  • Interlock ignition device must be installed on vehicle

Minnesota also has a lookback period of 10 years. This means that a DWI is relevant for sentencing for 10 years. If you receive two DWIs more than 10 years apart, each DWI will be treated as a first offense.

Refusing a Chemical Test

Minnesota has what is known as implied consent law. If you are pulled over and refuse to take a chemical test, then you will automatically have your license suspended and be ordered to pay a fine.

For each offense, you will automatically face one full year with a revoked license, which is much more serious than a suspended license.

Fighting DWI Charges

Just one DWI conviction can be life changing. Not having a license can make it harder to hold down a job or get to school on time, and for those looking for employment, a DWI on record makes a candidate’s application stand out in the wrong way. If you are facing DWI charges, call Marso & Michelson, P.A. for a free consultation at 612-821-4817.

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