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Is DUI a Felony or Misdemeanor in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, DWIs can range from misdemeanors to felonies depending on the facts of the offense and the offender’s prior record. Here is some information about the ranges of DUI charges.

What is a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony?

Minnesota has three classes of crimes: misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, and felony. The maximum punishment for the crime determines which category the offense falls within. Misdemeanors are the lowest level of offense. They are punishable by up to 90 days of jail and a $1,000 fine. Gross misdemeanors are the middle level of offense. They are punishable by up to 365 days in jail and a $3,000 fine. Felonies are the most severe crimes. Felonies are punishable by more than a year in prison and a fine over $3,000.

Fourth Degree DWI

Under Minnesota law, a fourth degree DWI occurs when someone is charged with drunk driving with no enhancement factors (either prior incidents or aggravating factors).  A fourth degree DWI is a misdemeanor, which is the lowest level of crime in Minnesota.  It is punishable by up to 90 days in jail or a $1,000 fine.  In addition, your license may be revoked.

Third Degree DWI

A third degree DWI occurs when there is one enhancement factor (either a prior incident or an aggravating factor).  It is a gross misdemeanor, which is the middle level of crimes in Minnesota.  It carries a punishment up to one year in jail or a $3,000 fine.  In addition to your license being revoked, Minnesota may also impound the license plates of the vehicle involved in the offense.

Second Degree DWI

A second degree DWI occurs when there are two enhancement factors (either prior incidents or aggravating factors or a combination).  A second degree DWI is also a gross misdemeanor, but usually involves a harsher imposed sentence than a third degree DWI.  In addition, the police and prosecutor can seek to forfeit the vehicle involved and sell it at an auction.

First Degree DWI

First degree DWI is the most severe offense level in Minnesota.  A first degree DWI is a felony and occurs when a person has three prior incidents within the last ten years or a prior felony DWI.  It carries a sentence between 3 and 7 years in prison and a fine of up to $14,000.  Usually a six-month minimum sentence is required to be executed.  In addition, many collateral consequences can occur, including license revocation, license plate impoundment, and vehicle forfeiture.

Aggravating Factors

DWIs enhance based on aggravating factors. Each of the following contributes one aggravating factor: one prior DWI within the past 10 years, children in the vehicle at the time of the offense, or testing over 0.20 BAC. In addition, a refusal of the test typically has the effect of adding an aggravating factor. Thus, someone who has one prior DWI within the last 10 years who tests over 0.20 will have two aggravating factors.

In addition to these basic issues, a DWI can create additional questions, such as: What will happen to my car? Can I drive if my license is revoked? How much jail time will I face?

A DWI charge can create stress and anxiety. That’s why it is important to find an experienced DWI lawyer to assist with your matter. If you are charged with a DWI, call St. Paul DWI lawyer Eric Rice for a no-obligation free consultation at (651) 998-9660.