4th Degree DWI

4th 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. T.B.

Charge: 4th Degree DWI

Resolution: Client pled to a misdemeanor careless driving with no jail to serve, a minimum fine, and only one-year on probation to the Court. In addition, the client did not have to waive his fight in the implied consent case. Ultimately, the license revocation that automatically happens following a DWI was rescinded. The end result for the client - no DWI on both his criminal and driving records. This is a clean sweep, victory for the client.

State v. T.S.

Charge: 4th Degree DWI

Resolution: Plea to Failing to Drive with Due Care. This is a prime example of how Mr. Gempeler is undeterred in seeking extraordinary results on routine cases. Client's alcohol reading was .08. Immediately and predictably, the city's offer was a careless driving, with an opportunity to fight the license revocation. Most attorneys grab this at the first hearing, sell their clients on this incredible outcome, and make a lot of money quickly and easily. We try harder, though. Utilizing what leverage existed from some legal issues, Mr. Gempeler artfully negotiated the failing to drive with due care plea. It pays to ensure you get the right team that will fight for the best possible outcome.

State v. J.L.

Charge: 4th Degree DWI

Resolution: Plea to Careless Driving. The client was sentenced to no jail or community service and instead ordered to complete a chemical assessment - which he already did - and complete a MADD panel. The fine was minimal and the client preserved the right to fight the implied consent revocation. This is a rare result. For an active military service member, this result was critical to get him reinstated.

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.

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.

revoked license

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