3rd Degree DWI

3rd Degree DWI

3rd degree dwi3rd Degree DWI in Minnesota is a gross misdemeanor offense. It is a 3rd degree DWI because there was one aggravating factor present at the time of the offense (a prior offense within the past 10 years or a reading above .16) or the defendant refused to submit to the chemical test. There are possible mandatory penalties and long-term monitoring that may apply. In addition, your license plates will be revoked, unless you refused on a first-time offense.

The outcome will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In some, you may be able to get a Careless Driving – rather than a plea to a DWI – or a stay of imposition, but a plea to a 4th Degree DWI as a misdemeanor is also a positive, and more likely, outcome when facing gross misdemeanor consequences.


The likely outcome will depend on why it’s a 3rd Degree DWI – i.e. it’s a second-time offense within 10 years, the reading was above .16, or it’s a refusal.

Second Offense within Ten Years – If the 3rd Degree DWI charge stems from this aggravating factor, mandatory penalties come into play. Namely, statute requires the driver to serve 30 days, with 48 hours to be serve consecutively in local jail and the remaining 28 days to be served on house arrest. Despite this being a mandatory penalty, there is always room for negotiation. With a proper legal strategy and team to implement it, this mandatory penalty can be overcome to avoid the time in custody, for instance.

.16 or more reading – A third degree DWI will be charged for first-time offenders who had elevated readings – i.e. twice the legal limit or more. There are no mandatory penalties. Often, the State attorney will want lengthier community service or even some jail time due to the high reading. But, like before, this is where a properly developed and implemented 3rd Degree DWI defense strategy can lead to very favorable results – such as a 4th Degree DWI plea, with a standard disposition to follow (no jail, minimal community service, and small fine).

Refusal – A 3rd Degree DWI Refusal is similar to a situation in which the driver had a high reading. There are no mandatory penalties, but prosecutors often seek stiffer penalties than a standard first-time offense. This is overcome easily with the right strategy, as detailed before.

Along with the criminal penalties, the collateral consequences are just as significant. The driver will lose their license for one-year. If it was a first-time refusal, the revocation period may be reduced to as little as 30- or 90-days if the driver was convicted of a misdemeanor 4th Degree DWI or 3rd Degree DWI Refusal, respectively. In addition, license plates may be impounded. Getting a fully valid license after the revocation period costs more than $700. These are the hidden costs associated with a DWI that make getting a 3rd Degree DWI attorney on your side immediately so critical.

Finally, even though a 3rd Degree DWI is only a gross misdemeanor, it is still a criminal offense and will force you to reveal to future employers that you have been convicted of a crime. Having an attorney to represent you will give you a greater chance of not serving jail time, possibly even allow you to plea down to a 4th degree DWI, or a careless driving conviction, depending on the circumstances of the offense.

Case Results

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

State v. S.C.

March 2017

Charge: 3rd Degree DWI

Resolution: Plea to a 4th Degree DWI with a standard result. This is a terrific result for a client that registered nearly three-times the legal limit on his first-time DWI. Due to a proper strategy and a pro-active approach by the client, Mr. Adkins was able to secure an outcome that resulted in no further jail or community service time, a small fine, and minimal conditions during probation. This is a misdemeanor offense and the client is put in a position to succeed going forward.

State v. A.B.

February 2017

Charge: 3rd Degree DWI, B-Card Restriction, Careless Driving, DAR

Resolution: Guilty plea to misdemeanor Careless Driving, rest of charges were dismissed. Initial offer was to a gross misdemeanor DWI and for 90 days to be served in custody and via house arrest. Mr. Gempeler successfully moved the Court to suppress the blood test result due to a faulty warrant, leading to the dismissal of the DWI charge. After the Court ruled in his favor, the Defendant obtained the result he wanted – 1-year probation (not 4), less jail time (he only faces house arrest), and no DWI record.

State v. D.P.

September 2016

Charge: 3rd Degree DWI

Resolution: Client pled guilty to a misdemeanor Careless Driving. The DWI case was dismissed in its entirety and the city tab-charged the Careless Driving. This means the client has a clean break and dismissal from the DWI and can tell prospective employers that his DWI was dismissed. Additionally, the terms of the sentence are minimal – $100 fine and no jail. What’s more, the client successfully fought the implied consent revocation, meaning his license revocation was rescinded. He avoided any DWI record in both his criminal and driving records. This is an incredible result.

State v. J.B.

August 2016

Charge: 3rd Degree DWI

Resolution: Client pled down to a misdemeanor 4th Degree DWI. Client had a breath alcohol concentration of .23, a significantly high reading that usually does not lead to a misdemeanor plea. This favorable result was obtained due to the strategic negotiations and proactive approach from the client. To show just how favorable of a result this was, immediately before this client’s case was called, an experience defense attorney pled his client to a gross misdemeanor offense for a first-time DWI with .20 reading. So, with similar, but worse facts, Mr. Gempeler obtained a significantly better result.

State v. D.M.

February 2016

Charge: 3rd Degree DWI-Refusal

Resolution: Case was dismissed. Case was previously dismissed when the cop failed to show. The State re-filed the same charges. Armed with six motions, all with credible legal grounds, the cop again failed to show at the contested hearing, forcing the State to dismiss the case again. There’s probably a reason the cop didn’t show twice – he didn’t want to face the music for the bad stop and being caught on tape saying: “I have my drunk for the night.” Even if the cop showed, the outcome would have been the same.

State v. M.J.

December 2015

Charge: 3rd Degree DWI, Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance; 3rd Degree DWI, Under the Influence of a combination of Alcohol and a Controlled Substance; and 3rd Degree DWI, Under the Influence of a Schedule II Controlled Substance

Resolution: Case was dismissed. This fantastic result was obtained due to the development of a personalized legal strategy that pushed the right legal defenses that were leveraged during negotiations with the prosecutor. The client’s breath alcohol concentration came back at .056, yet the officer still demanded a blood test to determine the presence of a narcotic in his system. But, the client had a valid prescription for the narcotic, which was an affirmative defense raised via motion. The failure of the officer to do any further testing – such as a drug recognition evaluation – proved costly as the State was left with no evidence that the client was under the influence of the narcotic.

For more detailed information, please click on the links below:

3rd Degree DWI Expungement

1 in 7 Minnesotans has a DWI on their record, and 49% of all Minnesota DWI arrests are of first time offenders. This means that 3rd Degree DWI is a relatively common conviction for Minnesotans. If you have a prior 3rd Degree DWI conviction and are looking to get that expunged off your record you can visit our DWI expungements page to see what options you may have to clear your record. We have experience expunging Minnesota DWI convictions all throughout the state, allowing our clients to move on with their lives. Even if you’re not yet eligible, it will be beneficial to talk to us as we can start walking you through the process of getting your DWI expunged once you are eligible.

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