Minnesota DWI Lawyers

minnesota dwi lawyers The Minnesota DWI lawyers at North Star Criminal Defense has represented hundreds of clients charged with DWI in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the rest of the metropolitan area. Our experience gives us a unique advantage in representing you as we know exactly how to negotiate with prosecutors. We will relentlessly fight on your behalf to get you the best possible results. At North Star Criminal Defense, we understand the impacts that a DWI charge will have on your life and your future which is why our team will tirelessly work to make sure your needs are met, allowing you focus on your life and not not criminal charges.

Minnesota DWI Process

Minnesota’s DWI Law is complex, especially to those trying to navigate their own way through being charged with a DWI. The potential consequences for a DWI will be different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. A person facing a DWI charge in Minneapolis may have a very different case than someone in St. Paul even. We will try to sort out the basic components of a Minnesota DWI charge below.

At its most basic form, a DWI charge can be one of the following:

  1. Driving while under the influence of alcohol – proven by your driving conduct and the indicia of intoxication you exhibit following a stop;
  2. Driving while under the influence of a controlled substance – proven by your driving conduct, indicia of being under the influence, and a separate test designed to determine whether you are under the influence of a controlled substance; and
  3. Driving while your alcohol concentration is 0.08 or more at the time of, or as measured within 2 hours of, you operating the vehicle.

The severity level of the offense will depend on the number of prior convictions and the number of aggravating factors. An aggravating factor can be any of the following:

  1. a qualified prior impaired driving incident within the ten years immediately preceding the current offense;
  2. having an alcohol concentration of 0.16 or more as measured at the time, or within 2 hours of the time, of the offense; or
  3. having a child under the age of 16 in the motor vehicle at the time of the offense if the child is more than 36 months younger than the offender.

Of course, a “qualified prior impaired driving incident” is further defined to include both a “prior impaired conviction” and a “prior impaired driving-related loss of license.” Simply put, a “prior impaired conviction” is a prior DWI conviction in this state or another state with similar DWI law. A “prior impaired driving-relating loss of license” is the revocation, suspension, cancellation, denial, or disqualification of your license resulting from an offense of being under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance while driving. Either the conviction or the resultant loss of license – but not both if they arise from the same course of conduct – can be used as an aggravating factor to enhance the current DWI charge.

Types of DWI Charges

4th Degree DWI

4th degree DWI 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 0.16. There are no mandatory penalties or long-term supervision.

The standard disposition for a first-time offense differs 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 or better. Meanwhile, other jurisdictions will seek a plea to the DWI and request for time in custody or community service. For more information, read here.

3rd Degree DWI

3rd degree DWI is a gross misdemeanor offense. There was one aggravating factor present at the time of the offense or the defendant refused to submit to the chemical test. There are mandatory penalties that apply and long-term monitoring may apply. In addition, your license plates will be revoked, unless you refused on a first-time offense.

The likely disposition will vary as before. In addition to the possibility of the outcomes mentioned before, a plea to a 4th Degree DWI as a misdemeanor is also a positive outcome when facing gross misdemeanor consequences. For more information, read here.

2nd Degree DWI

2nd degree DWI is a gross misdemeanor offense. There were 2 or more aggravating factors at the time of the offense or there was a refusal with 1 or more aggravating factors present. Mandatory penalties and long-term monitoring apply. License plates will be revoked. And, the vehicle will be subject to forfeiture. Because only a 2nd Degree allows for forfeiture of the vehicle, negotiating a plea to a lesser degree is difficult to accomplish when facing 2nd degree charges.

1st Degree DWI

1st degree DWI 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 7 years and a $14,000.00 fine.

This is the broad overview of the DWI law. For more detailed information, please click on the links below:


North Star Criminal Defense - Proven Success in Fighting DWI Charges

The Minnesota DWI lawyers at North Star Criminal Defense have nearly 30 combined years of successfully defending DWI charges of all degrees and throughout multiple jurisdictions. We know the law, the defenses, and the strategy necessary in order to obtain resolutions that avoid convictions and jail time. We have helped countless clients overcome these debilitating charges and get back on their feet.  If you have been accused of any type a DWI, you need to contact us right away.