1st Degree DWI in Minnesota

1st 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. While the State may seek prison time, the amount of time you will need to serve will depend on the circumstances of the DWI and past DWI convictions. With that being said, it is possible to limit this exposure based upon potential proactive steps - such as chemical dependency treatment and programming - which may lead to much more lenient sentencing, including significantly less jail time.

Additionally, 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 for 1st Degree DWI in Minnesota

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

State v. A.V.

Charges: 1st Degree DWI

Resolution: Case out of Anoka County. After motion practice, Client permitted to plead to a gross misdemeanor offense with only house arrest, a minimum fine, and drastically reduced probation, solely to the Court. Perhaps most importantly--even with complete avoidance of a felony conviction--the client's vehicle was returned at no cost. A great result for a felony charge.

State v. M.S.

Charges: 1st Degree DWI

Resolution: A misdemeanor outcome for our client. Client's long-term relationship dissolved poorly, multiple felony counts resulted, and 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.

See More Case Results

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North Star Criminal Defense - Proven Success in Fighting DWI Charges

The Minnesota DWI attorneys 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.