If you are charged with drunk driving charge in Minnesota, the main question that you’ll likely have is what the penalties will be and if you’ll have to do any jail time. Under Minnesota law, there are mandatory penalties that typically apply to most DUI offenses. Unlike the charges for 4th degree DWI, 3rd degree DWI, 2nd degree DWI, and 1st degree DWI, the penalties are not based on aggravating factors. Rather, they are based on the number of prior DWIs. So, for example, you could be charged with a 3rd degree DWI but face penalties applicable to those with 2 prior DWIs when the matter is sentenced. Here are the minimum penalties for DWI in Minnesota (all priors are within 10 years unless noted):
No mandatory penalty.
30 days of incarceration or community work service with at least 48 hours served in jail.
90 days of incarceration with at least 30 consecutive days in jail or intensive supervision program.
For non-felony violations, 180 days of incarceration with a minimum of 30 consecutive days in jail or intensive supervision program.
Fifth or more DWI
For non-felony violations, 365 days of incarceration with a minimum of 60 consecutive days in jail or intensive supervision program.
Absent special circumstances, a sentence of at least 36 months must be imposed. However, the court may stay execution and apply the applicable non-felony penalty. Otherwise, sentencing is conducted according to the recommendations of the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines.
The maximum penalty depends on the charge. For misdemeanors, the court can impose up to 90 days of incarceration and a $1,000 fine. For a gross misdemeanor, the court can impose up to 365 days of incarceration and a $3,000 fine. For felony DWI, the court can impose up to 7 years of incarceration or a $14,000 fine.
In Minnesota, a DWI charge triggers two types of actions: civil and criminal cases. The criminal matter is handled by the prosecutor and has the potential for jail and criminal fines. However, there also another prong that occurs when you are charged with a DWI. The civil side concerns driver’s license revocation, license plate impoundment (whiskey plates), and vehicle forfeiture. These matters are separate from the criminal case, so it is important that you understand the full picture of how a DWI can affect you.
Driver’s License Revocation
The main consequence that occurs in all DWI and drunk driving cases is driver’s license revocation. The period of revocation varies depending the specific charge and circumstances, but it will usually involve loss of license for a period and costly fees to get the license reinstated. In addition, a loss of license will qualify as a prior incident for future DWI charges regardless of whether you are found innocent or guilty in the criminal DWI charge.
License Plate Impoundment
In addition to losing your license, your vehicle’s license plates can be impounded and you can be forced to have “whiskey plates” if you face a third-degree or higher DWI. Again, this process is separate from the criminal matter and must be separately challenged.
The most severe civil consequence is vehicle forfeiture. If you face a first- or second-degree DWI, Minnesota may try to forfeit your vehicle. This can result in the vehicle being sold at auction and an immediate loss of all equity you had in the vehicle. Just like the other penalties, if you don’t challenge this separately, you can lose your vehicle even if you’re ultimately found innocent on the criminal DWI charge.
In addition to these penalties, there are many other questions that come up during a DWI, such as: Will I have to serve jail time? Will I have to miss any time at my job? Does treatment count for anything?
A DWI charge can cause stress and many difficult questions. An experienced DWI attorney can assist you with managing your matter and minimizing the negative consequences. If you are facing a DWI, contact DWI lawyer Eric Rice for a free consultation at (651) 998-9660.