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St. Paul DWI Attorneys

Minnesota Drunk Driving Laws

In Minnesota, driving while impaired (DWI) is a serious offense that can result in administrative and criminal penalties. The punishments may include incarceration, fines, driver's license suspension, and community service, among others. If you were accused of drunk driving, you must act quickly and get an attorney on your side who knows how to fight these charges. A conviction could result not only in the sanctions previously listed but also in a mark on your criminal record. Having a criminal history could make it challenging for you to keep or find a job, keep insurance rates low, and/or pass a background check.

Pleading guilty is not your only option. You have the right to fight your charges, and you need legal representation to do so effectively. At Rogosheske, Rogosheske & Atkins, PLLC, we provide compassionate and zealous advocacy from the start of your case until the resolution. We understand that various factors could mistakenly lead to a DWI accusation, such as improper calibration of chemical testing equipment. Our St. Paul DWI lawyers will examine every detail of your case, from the initial stop to the resulting charge, to spot holes in the State's allegations and build a strong defense strategy on your behalf.

Get over 80 years of combined legal experience on your side by calling our St. Paul DWI attorneys at (651) 413-9004 today.

What Constitutes a DWI in MN?

In Minnesota, a person could be accused of DWI if they are driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. However, a person could be charged for having an alcohol concentration lower than that.

Such circumstances include when a:

  • Motorist is operating a commercial vehicle and their alcohol concentration is .04 or higher
  • Person under 21 years of age drives with any alcohol concentration level

A police officer may stop an individual if probable cause exists that they're driving while intoxicated.

A few driving behaviors officers may look for before pulling a driver over include:

  • Weaving in and out of lanes,
  • Driving too fast or slow,
  • Failing to obey road signs and traffic signals

If the driver is suspected of being under the influence, the officer could arrest the individual and require that they submit to a breath, blood, or urine test to determine whether or not alcohol is present in their system. Under Minnesota's implied consent law, any person who drives on a public road has given their permission to be subject to one of these chemical tests. Refusing to participate is a crime, and the person could face sanctions for doing so.

Minnesota DWI Penalties

In Minnesota, DWI offenses are categorized into four degrees. The degree determines the penalties the driver could face and depends on the specifics of the circumstances.

The degrees of DWI charges and penalties in Minnesota include:

4th Degree DWI in MN

A fourth-degree DWI is charged when a person is driving while impaired and no aggravating factors are present. The criminal penalties include up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

3rd Degree DWI in MN

The third-degree DWI is levied when a person is driving while impaired and one aggravating factor was present during the commission of the offense, or the driver refused to submit to a chemical test. This is a gross misdemeanor, with conviction penalties including up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $3,000.

2nd Degree DWI in MN

A person faces second-degree DWI charge if they refused to submit to a chemical test and one aggravating factor was present, or if two aggravating factors were present. The offense is also a gross misdemeanor and may result in up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $3,000.

1st Degree DWI in MN

A first-degree DWI charge is levied when a person:

First-degree DWI is a felony. A conviction could result in imprisonment of up to 7 years and/or a fine of up to $14,000.

Minnesota law also provides that drivers convicted of second and subsequent DWI offenses may be subject to mandatory penalties. The exact punishments depend on the facts of the case. For instance, a second offense may result in a minimum incarceration term of 30 days and 8 hours of community service. A third offense could lead to a minimum of 90 days incarceration and an intensive supervision program.

Aggravated DWI Charges in Minnesota

For determining the degree of DWI charge, an aggravating factor is defined as:

  • A previous DWI offense within the past 10 years
  • An alcohol concentration of .16 or higher
  • A child under 16 years of age present in the vehicle at the time of the offense (if the driver was 3 or more years older than the child)

If you are facing a second or subsequent drunk driving charge, our St. Paul DWI lawyers can discuss the potential penalties that could be imposed, as well as your legal options for fighting the accusations.

Minnesota Administrative Sanctions for a DWI

As mentioned earlier, in addition to criminal penalties, a driver suspected of DWI is also subject to administrative sanctions. These are immediate punishments for driving while impaired and may be levied before the criminal case concludes.

Administrative sanctions may include:

  • Driver's license suspension or revocation
  • License plate impoundment
  • Vehicle forfeiture
  • Ignition interlock device installation

The penalties vary depending on the number of previous DWI offenses and whether or not aggravating factors were present at the time of the incident. For instance, a first-offense DWI with an alcohol concentration between .08 and .16 may lead to a driver's license suspension of 90 days. However, if the driver refused to submit to a chemical test, they could lose their driving privileges for at least 1 year. If the individual has 4 or more previous DWI offenses, their driver's license may be suspended for at least 6 years.

For commercial driver's license holders, if they refused a chemical test or had an alcohol concentration of .04 or higher, their CDL may be revoked.

Minnesota’s DWI Ignition Interlock Device Program

First-time DWI offenders with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .16 or more (twice the legal limit)—as well as all second-time or subsequent alcohol offenders—have the option of regaining driving privileges by participating in the state’s ignition interlock device (IID) program.

The IID program improves public safety by permitting eligible alcohol offenders the option of installing an IID in their vehicle to promote legal, safe driving. Thus, instead of completely losing one’s license and driving privileges for a period of time, participation in the IID program enables a person to continue to drive and monitors him/her to ensure s/he doesn’t drive—or attempt to drive—while under the influence or otherwise intoxicated.

What Is an IID?

An IID is a small piece of equipment mounted in one’s vehicle to monitor the driver’s BAC. Typically installed near the steering wheel, these devices include a tube into which the driver must blow before starting the vehicle. The IID is then connected to the engine. Any alcohol detection above a certain threshold level prevents the vehicle from starting.

Minnesota IIDs also randomly collect air samples while the vehicle is in motion to test for alcohol. This is to prevent an offender from having a sober person blow into the IID instead so the vehicle will start.

The collected data is recorded electronically and subsequently reported to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) each month.

How Are IIDs Installed?

IIDs can be installed in any car, pickup truck, or van operable with a regular Class D driver’s license that requires no additional endorsements. However, IIDs cannot be installed in rental or recreational vehicles including motorcycles and scooters.

How Do I Participate in the IID Program?

The first step is to sign a participation waiver. These waivers are obtainable at the Driver and Vehicle Services Department at the DPS. Additional requirements necessary for IID program participation include:

  • Having valid insurance on the vehicle in which IID installation will occur
  • Passing a DWI knowledge test administered by the state
  • Completing an application
  • Paying the $680 application fee
  • Filling out the state’s participation agreement
  • Sending all required documents to the DPS

How Does the Program Work?

The IID program works by enabling a motorist convicted of one or multiple DWIs or other certain DWI-related offenses to obtain a restricted driver’s license instead of having one’s license revoked for a longer period of time. This is beneficial for those who need to drive to and from work, school, or to pick up their children instead of being completely denied the ability to drive. In this way, the IID program helps convicted DWI motorists lead more-or-less normal lives.

How Long Does the IID Program Last?

Two primary factors determine the length of time a person must participate in the program. They are the number of prior DWI offenses and the offender’s level of intoxication at the time of the current offense.

Offenders are sentenced to a particular length of time to participate in the program; however, any violation of the program’s rules may result in an extension. Typically, a first DWI results in a one-year IID requirement, and each subsequent DWI adds a year to the program’s total length.

Motorists with canceled driver’s licenses and whose driving privileges have been denied as inimical to public safety (IPS) must enroll in the IID program for three (3) to six (6) years in order to regain their full driving privileges.

How Is My Life Impacted by a DWI?

An arrest, charge, and conviction for driving while impaired could lead to more than just a night in jail.

Your life may be affected in various ways, including:

  • Impacting your finances: If you're convicted, you may be assessed a steep fine. Additionally, you will be charged legal fees on top of those you must pay your lawyer.
  • Impacting your employment: Some employers have policies against drunk driving and may make hiring and retention decisions based on an employee's (or potential employees) history. Depending on the severity of your offense, your job may be on the line.
  • Impacting your privilege to drive: Your driver's license may be suspended for a few months to several years. This could make it difficult for you to take care of daily tasks such as taking your children to school, going grocery shopping, or getting to work.
  • Impacting your freedom: Depending on the facts of your case, if you're convicted of DWI, you could be incarcerated.

Fight Your DWI Charge in Minnesota

The stakes are high in a DWI case. If you've been charged, you need the skilled and aggressive defense our St. Paul DWI attorneys at Rogosheske, Rogosheske & Atkins, PLLC can provide. We explore every legal option and exhaust our resources to work toward a favorable outcome on your behalf.

Schedule a confidential consultation by calling our St. Paul DWI attorneys at (651) 413-9004 or submitting an online contact form.

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