1st Degree DWI

1st Degree DWI

1st degree dwi1st degree DWI in Minnesota is a felony offense. Unlike the previous levels of offense, a felony does not rely upon “aggravating factors.” Instead, a felony results when the defendant has: (1) 3 or more “qualified prior impaired driving incidents” within the previous 10 years, (2) a previous felony DWI conviction; or (3) a certain prior criminal vehicular operation felony conviction. Because a previous felony DWI conviction can be used to enhance any future DWIs, once you are a felon, you are always a felon for DWI purposes. The number of priors within ten years is irrelevant at that point for future DWIs. The maximum penalty carries up to seven years in jail and/or a $14,000.00 fine.


If you’re convicted of a 1st degree DWI, you will almost certainly face jail time. The amount of time you will need to serve will depend on the circumstances of the DWI and past DWI convictions. It is extremely difficult to avoid jail time when facing a 1st degree DWI conviction as you will have to convince the court that your own treatment efforts will prevent you from offending again.

Regardless of what the prison sentence is, your driver’s license will be revoked for an extended period of time. The typical revocation period is four years but if you cannot demonstrate sobriety in this time it will be lengthened. If your license is reinstated, there is a no tolerance policy for driving with any blood alcohol concentration. This policy will last for 10 years before you may be granted a regular license.

Case Results

To see just how successful our approach is, here are some representative case results:

State v. M.S.

June 2016

Charges: 1st Degree DWI

Resolution: A misdemeanor outcome for our client. Client’s long-term relationship dissolved poorly, multiple felony counts resulted, Then two separate DWI matters allegedly occur. An utterly inclusive and long-term commitment to sobriety, and verification of the same, changed the tenor of the case completely, and a presumptive prison sentence was avoided completely. Client is able to maintain employment, keep his home, recover his work truck, and move on with his life, and was overjoyed with his results.

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