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In Minnesota, driving while impaired (DWI) offenses are separated into four degrees based on the crime’s severity. A first-degree DWI is the most serious. As such, it comes with harsh penalties, including a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment and conditional release. Although you may have been charged with a first-degree DWI, hope is not lost. You can challenge the accusations against you and seek to minimize or avoid the penalties. Aggressively fighting the charge requires the help of an attorney who understands Minnesota's DWI laws and the nuances of these cases.
Backed by over 50 years of combined experience, our team at Rogosheske, Rogosheske & Atkins, PLLC is intimately familiar with the criminal justice system. We know how to develop the best possible defenses for our clients. Our first-degree DWI attorneys in St. Paul recognize that a conviction can severely alter the course of your life. That is why we are ready to work relentlessly to seek an optimal result on your behalf.
Under Minnesota's DWI law, in general, a person commits a violation when they get behind the wheel while impaired.
Minnesota Statutes § 169A.20 provides that it is unlawful to "drive, operate, or be in physical control of a vehicle" when:
- Under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances, or intoxicating substances;
- Alcohol concentration level is at 0.08 for non-commercial vehicle drivers and 0.04 for commercial vehicle drivers; or
- Any amount of a Schedule I or II controlled substance (except marijuana) is in the driver's system
Minnesota's definition of driving while impaired encompasses a variety of behaviors and not merely controlling a moving vehicle. A person may be accused of a violation if they are under the influence and are in or near their vehicle and able to exercise control over it.
A person may be charged with a first-degree DWI (Minnesota Statutes § 169A.24) if they commit a violation and any of the following apply:
- They have three or more DWI convictions within 10 years preceding the current offense;
- They have a previous felony DWI conviction; or
- They have a conviction for felony-level criminal vehicular operation resulting in injury or death.
At Rogosheske, Rogosheske & Atkins, PLLC, we know that factors such as fatigue or medical conditions can affect a person's driving behavior or performance on field sobriety or chemical tests. In some cases, officers do not have probable cause to stop or arrest drivers they think are drunk driving, violating the individual's rights. Because several things can play a part in a DWI matter – some of which may not be related to alcohol or drug consumption – various defenses can be raised in these cases. Our St. Paul first-degree DWI lawyers can assess your situation and discuss your options for fighting your charge.
Is a First-Degree DWI in Minnesota a Felony or a Misdemeanor?
Although second-, third-, and fourth-degree DWIs in Minnesota are misdemeanors, a first-degree offense is not. It is a felony carrying severe penalties.
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Any person convicted of a first-degree DWI can be subject to a bevy of criminal punishments.
Below are some of the potential penalties for the offense:
- Up to 7 years of imprisonment
- Minimum of 180 days in jail
- 4-year driver's license revocation
- License plate impoundment
- Vehicle forfeiture
- 5-year conditional release
When a person is subject to conditional release, they must adhere to court-ordered terms. Failure to comply can result in a revocation of release and return to prison for the time remaining for the conditional release.
A few of the conditions that may be imposed include, but are not limited to:
- Vehicle plate impoundment (if not already ordered)
- Reporting to a probation agent weekly
- Refraining from using drugs and alcohol
- Submitting to random alcohol tests and urine analyses weekly
The consequences of a first-degree DWI are too severe not to take the charge seriously. At Rogosheske, Rogosheske & Atkins, PLLC, our St. Paul first-degree DWI attorneys are ready to jump into action and develop a strategic defense for you.
Charged with a First-Degree DWI in Minnesota? Reach Out to Our Firm.
Our team is here to listen to your side of the story and provide an honest evaluation of your case. We will explain the process, the possible outcomes, and paths we can pursue to seek the best possible result on your behalf.
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