St. Paul, MN criminal defense attorney Robert Ambrose talks about the various levels of DWI/DUI in Minnesota.
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So there’s four levels of DWI in Minnesota, first-degree being the most severe as a felony, fourth-degree being the most – the at least severe as a misdemeanor. So a first-degree DWI, you can get that if you have four DWIs within a ten-year period or if you’ve ever previously been convicted of a felony DWI. Even if one is 15 years old, every DWI you get there after is going to be a felony, if you have a felony DWI on your record. Second- and third-degree DWI are gross misdemeanor DWIs, maximum punishment up to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine. You can get those on a first-time offense. If you refuse the test, it can be a third-degree DWI. If you’ve tested .16 or more, if you have a prior DWI in the past ten years. So there’s aggravating factors in Minnesota that can take you from fourth-degree to third-degree, second-degree, and first-degree. Fourth-degree DWI is your common first-time defense, somebody tests under .16. And that’s just a misdemeanor offense. Maximum punishment’s up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
However, I often tell people, do not be scared off by these maximum penalties. Just because they say the maximum punishment is 90 days in jail or a year in jail, that’s not what the statutes say as far as the minimum amount of time. And oftentimes, there is no time imposed at the end of the case on your first-time DWI, depending on what county you’re in.