2nd Degree DWI

2nd Degree DWI in Minnesota 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 more complicated when facing 2nd degree charges.

You will be charged with a 2nd degree DWI if the following factors apply:

  1. You have two prior DWI's in the past ten years;
  2. Your alcohol concentration was at .16 or above or refused the test, and you have a prior DWI within the past 10 years; or
  3. Your alcohol concentration was at .16 or above and you had a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle at the time of the incident.


If you're convicted of a 2nd degree DWI, you will likely face jail time. The amount of time you will need to serve will depend on the circumstances of the DWI and the number of past DWI convictions.

If there are two prior DWI convictions within the last 10 years, the statutory minimum requires 90 days to be served, with 30 days in custody and 60 on electronic home monitoring with alcohol supervision. If you have one prior DWI conviction with a current 2nd Degree DWI charge, the statutory minimum requires 48 hours in custody with 28 days on electronic home monitoring. Though, due to the elevated reading, most jurisdictions will initially ask for a stiffer penalty. And if the 2nd Degree DWI stems from a high reading and the presence of a child in the car, no statutory minimum is in play, but rest assured the State will seek stiff penalties that includes time in custody.

Despite the presence of statutory minimum sentences, these can be avoided with a proper legal strategy. These are always negotiable and there are many proactive steps a client can take to improve their situation to receive a better outcome. Further, some jurisdictions - like Hennepin County for instance - have DWI Court - an alternative court that is designed to help repeat offenders tackle the underlying issues with alcohol. DWI Court involves intensive oversight by the Court and probation, and time-consuming, but the client can avoid lengthy jail sentences and get the care necessary to really tackle potential alcohol problems. Clients that have entered this program have been successful and are pleased with the decision to do it.

We explore this option, as well as others, in developing and implementing a personalized legal strategy to best serve our clients needs. A 2nd Degree DWI attorney is critical to help counsel and guide you through this complicated maze and put you in the best position moving forward.

Case Results

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

State v. S.B.

Charges: 2nd Degree DWI - Gross Misdemeanor

Resolution: 2nd Degree DWI case in Dakota County. After extensive negotiations, a strange DUI arrest shortly after a client resolved the last matter in which she was involved closed with no jail time required, a car returned notwithstanding a proper basis for forfeiture, and virtually no fine or other consequences. Stunning success, for a fantastic young lady.

State v. J.J.

Charges: 2nd Degree DWI - Gross Misdemeanor

Resolution: Stay of Imposition to 3rd Degree DWI, meaning this will be a misdemeanor upon completion of probation. Client blew almost three-times the legal limit and was charged with assaulting the officer. Still, due in part to the client's proactive measures to seek help, Mr. Gempeler was able to not only negotiate this incredible criminal result, but also negotiated the buy-back of the vehicle - a critical result for the client.

State v. S.S.A.

Charges: 2nd Degree DWI - Gross Misdemeanor

Resolution: Plea to 3rd Degree DWI - Gross Misdemeanor. The client had a recent prior (in fact, she's still on probation from it) and a high breath test reading. Further, she had a single-car accident that resulted in damage to public property. Her vehicle was subject to forfeiture, as well. Still, despite this bad facts, Mr. Gempeler negotiated a result that is consistent with a standard, low-reading second-time offense (which means, no further jail, minimal fine, no increase in house arrest often associated with high-reading/accident cases) and, most importantly to the client, the return of her vehicle. The client is very pleased with this result, understanding how easily it could have ended up so much worse for her without the proper counseling of North Star.

State v. F.L.

Charges: 2nd Degree DWI - Gross Misdemeanor

Resolution: An extremely high PBT test and two aggravating factors out of Washington County, settled as essentially a 4th Degree DWI. The forfeiture of his motor vehicle dismissed and car returned without costs, driving privileges reinstated, and no jail time. This client was representing himself, facing a mandatory 6 months in jail, a three year revocation of his driving privileges, and the loss of his treasured vehicle. After six months of careful negotiations and strong efforts to reform himself, the client gets his car back, avoids so much as an HOUR in custody, and moves forward with his new baby and family intact. Hard to say what aspect of our work was responsible for this outcome, other than a relentless commitment to integrity-based advocacy, and carefully-managed relationships with judges, judicial staff, prosecutors and clerks. A great, great outcome.

See More Case Results

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

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.

2nd Degree DWI Expungement

If you have a prior 2nd Degree DWI conviction from over four years ago 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.

2nd Degree DWI Minnesota

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