4th Degree DWI

4th Degree DWI

4th degree dwi4th Degree DWI in Minnesota is a misdemeanor offense. This occurs when there are no aggravating factors – meaning, it is a first-time offense and the alcohol concentration was below .16.

While many jurisdictions have “standard” offers for first-time offenders, these can be improved dramatically based upon a proper defense strategy. When we handle DWI’s, we take the time to understand the big picture and what is truly at stake for our clients because every case is unique and every client has unique needs that must dictate our approach to the case. Understanding this, we implement a two-prong approach. First, we, of course, diligently review the state’s evidence to determine whether there are any legal defenses – such as a stop issue or probable cause issue – worth fighting and asking for the Court’s review that can lead to a dismissal of the case. Second, we work with our clients to develop a plan to put our clients in the best position possible to obtain the most favorable plea deal. Proactive measures by our clients can lead to atypical results that truly allow our clients to succeed going forward. Through this approach, a standard offer to plead guilty as charge turns into a non-standard result, such as a careless driving (even on a .15 case for instance) or even a speeding ticket plea.


Typically, a 4th Degree DWI conviction will result in 1-2 years of probation and/or a fine between $300-500, with the possibility of community work service and a requirement to complete a chemical dependency evaluation and follow any recommendations for substance abuse treatment or programming. Being placed on probation results in an additional probation fee of several hundred dollars. Even if a client decides to plead to a DWI, we are regularly successful in negotiating sentences that do not include community work service, minimizes the fine, and the client is not placed on supervised probation, but rather placed on unsupervised probation, which saves our clients significant money and the hassle associated with traditional probation. These may seem like small victories, but our clients are always appreciative, knowing that we have fought the entire time to get the best possible outcome. Beyond these criminal consequences, any conviction also results in a loss of license for 30 or 90 days.

Case Results

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

State v. S.L.

July 2016

Charge: 4th Degree DWI

Resolution: Careless Driving plea. Client was charged with a DWI at a .13 alcohol concentration level. Usually, the cut-off for a careless driving plea is a .10. Still, Mr. Adkins obtained this fantastic result due to his fantastic working relationship with the prosecutor and a client that was proactive in accepting responsibility for his actions. Together, this led to getting the just result for a deserving client.

State v. C.V.

January 2016

Charge: 4th Degree DWI

Resolution: DWI was dismissed and the client pled to a misdemeanor speeding citation as a separate criminal file. This outcome was critical to the client because she travels to Canada for work. And a DWI or Careless Driving conviction would result in her being denied entry, thereby resulting in her losing her job. Due to a proactive approach by the client and strong negotiations from Mr. Gempeler, the client is able to say the DWI case was dismissed in its entirety and she now only has a speeding ticket on her record. This will mean she can enter Canada without fear that this DWI record will prohibit her entry. Needless to say, this was an especially meaningful result for the client.

State v. A.S.

July 2015

Charge: 4th Degree DWI

Resolution: Plea to misdemeanor failure to signal traffic offense and the DWI charges were dismissed. After Mr. Gempeler filed motions challenging the stop and probable cause for arrest, the prosecutor made an offer the client could not refuse because the legal motions were far from guarantees. In addition to getting only a misdemeanor traffic offense on her record, the client was not sentenced to complete any jail time, do any community service, and did not even have to do the one-day alcohol education program that is typically required for all DWIs. The client also avoided the probation fee when supervised probation was limited to five months.

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

4th 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 4th Degree DWI is a relatively common conviction for Minnesotans. If you have a prior 4th 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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