• DWI Penalties



    In Minnesota, a prior DWI conviction within the past 10 years can make a present offense more serious and that can mean harsher penalties.

    Prior qualified offenses include:

    Prior impaired driving convictions

    Prior impaired driving losses, such as loss of license due to implied consent revocation or loss of operating privileges for other driving-related incidents that have occurred within the past ten years.

    A prior offense causing a DWI to become more serious is called “enhancing” the charge. Minnesota also treats previous implied consent revocations as a prior conviction. In other words, being arrested for DWI that was reduced to something such as reckless driving with a revocation that was the result of implied consent can enhance the present charge.

    If you have been charged with DWI and you have a qualified prior impaired driving incident, it is important to consult with a Minneapolis DWI attorney as soon as possible so work can immediately begin on your case.


    An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to initiate a collateral attack on the previous DWI conviction or revocation. This strategy has been known to reduce the impact that the prior conviction has on the current matter. By working toward charge reduction, the penalties can be reduced.

    It is possible to keep the prior incident from being used in your new case. Your attorney must show that the previous revocation or conviction was not received constitutionally. The state must also show a valid waiver in order to use the previous revocation or conviction in the case. This waiver of right to counsel is sometimes not found because the defendant had counsel present at the time of the previous offense. If the right to counsel was waived at the time of the previous offense, then the prosecution may be able to produce the valid waiver.


    We have extensive experience in helping clients receive the best possible outcome. We look at the matter and use strategies with the goal of ensuring the past offense is not a factor. Even if it is, we utilize our resources and knowledge to achieve the best possible outcome in the case. There are times when the charges can be reduced, dismissed, or there are factors present that lead to acquittal. Your St. Paul DWI attorney will work every possible angle so that you can move past the matter and on with your life.


    If you have been arrested for DWI and you have a qualified prior impaired driving incident on your record, the charge can be aggravated and the penalties more serious. If you have been convicted for a subsequent DWI, you can defend your rights and learn about your options by having a qualified attorney by your side. To learn more about how the Ramsay Law Firm, PLLC can help you, call 651-604-0000 for a free consultation.



    No website can act as a substitute for the advice of a knowledgeable attorney. However, after being charged with a DWI everyone’s natural reaction is to immediately wonder, “will I have to go to jail?” (Or, in some cases, back to jail). Below is a brief explanation of the current penalties that can be imposed on someone who is charged with DWI. Keep in mind that every single case is unique, and that with our experience and expertise you could avoid some or all of the consequences listed below.


    Minnesota has four degrees of DWI offense, ranging from Fourth Degree DWI (a misdemeanor offense, and the lowest possible charge) to First Degree DWI (a felony, and the most severe offense). Third Degree DWI and Second Degree DWI are both classified as gross misdemeanors – more severe than a misdemeanor, less severe than a felony.


    Any time you are charged with a DWI, the degree of offense charged is based upon how many “aggravating factors” can be proven. For every aggravating factor, the charge goes up one degree. For example, a Fourth Degree DWI will go “up” to a Third Degree DWI if there is one aggravating factor present.

    What are the “aggravating factors?” They are:

    having an alcohol concentration at or above .20 (about two and a half times the legal limit)

    having a child in the vehicle under the age of 16

    refusing to submit to a blood, breath or urine test

    having one or more prior offenses within the previous ten years (either a DWI conviction or a alcohol related driver’s license revocation)

    Alongside these aggravating factors, there is two different aggravating circumstances. If the State alleges that someone was injured, you can be subjected to the separate offense of either Criminal Vehicular Operation or Criminal Vehicular Homicide, in addition to charges of DWI. If you have a prior felony DWI conviction, any subsequent DWI will automatically be treated as another felony.


    The maximum penalties for DWI are based upon the level of the offense you are convicted of. Misdemeanors have lower maximum penalties than felonies.

    Fourth Degree DWI: a misdemeanor offense, with a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail, a $1000, and two years of probation

    Third Degree DWI: a gross misdemeanor offense, with a maximum penalty of 365 days in jail, a $3000 fine, and 6 years of probation.

    Second Degree DWI: another gross misdemeanor offense, also with a maximum penalty of 365 days in jail, a $3000 fine, and 6 years of probation.

    First Degree DWI: a felony offense, with a maximum penalty of seven years in prison, a $14,000 fine, and up to five years of “conditional release” after a lengthy term of probation.


    Few people will actually serve the maximum penalties described above. However, there are also mandatory minimum penalties that will be imposed for most DWI convictions. Keep in mind, these minimums only apply after a conviction – you’ll want to call us for a free consultation to discuss how these statutory minimums apply to your case, and what we can do to avoid them.

    Fourth Degree DWI: no minimum sentence. “Standard” types of sentence vary by county (and sometimes by judge) and would require a consultation to fully explain.

    Third Degree DWI: in most (but not all) of these cases the court is required to sentence the offender to serve at least 30 days in jail.

    Second Degree DWI: in most (but not all) of these cases the court is required to sentence the offender to serve at least 90 days in jail. The court is also required to sentence the offender to a costly program of “intensive supervision.”

    First Degree DWI:. in most (but not all) of these cases the court is required to sentence the offender to between180 days and 365 days in jail, if they don’t outright sentence the offender to a lengthy prison term. Again, the court will also sentence the offender to a costly program of “intensive supervision.”


    Alongside the criminal charges, the State will also revoke your driver’s license, possibly impound your license plates, and maybe even seize your vehicle. These “civil” consequences are anything but “civil,” and can be just as damaging as a stay in jail. Furthermore, any alcohol related license revocation has far reaching consequences for not only your insurance rates, but even your criminal record.

    Luckily, most of the same defenses that can be raised in the criminal case can also be raised in a civil case challenging this license revocation. A good resolution of our client’s cases involves not just beating the criminal charges, but also restoring their driving privileges, their license plates, and getting them their vehicle back.

    Short of knowing the specific facts of a case, it is very difficult to state in general terms how long a person’s license will be revoked based on the degree of DWI they are charged with, or if the State will impound a driver’s plates. However, as a guideline you can expect a loss of license ranging from 90 days to a lifetime ban on driving, with the duration increasing for every prior DWI you’ve received. Some of the “aggravating factors” described above are also used to determine how long your license will be revoked . . . but not all of them, and even the ones that are used are handled in a different matter.

    When it comes to understanding (and fighting) the civil consequences of a DWI offense, a knowledgeable attorney is really your only option. They can educate you on the following types of penalties and what your best option will be:

    DWI Travel Consequences

    DWI Probation

    Plate Impoundment


    DWI Penalty Assessment

    DWI Monitoring

    Ignition Interlock Device

    Vehicle Forfeitures

    Fighting to Keep Your License



    When you’ve been arrested for DWI, you need an experienced St. Paul Criminal Attorney to represent you whether you feel the arrest is fair or not. You need your rights protected to ensure that you are treated fairly and you need an attorney who will leverage their experience with state laws to achieve the best possible results.

    The truth is that being faced with a DWI charge can have a very serious outcome if convicted. The penalties can be quite harsh, but here is a glimpse of the possible consequences:

    Your license could be suspended or revoked

    Your insurance could be cancelled or your premiums increased

    You could go to jail

    You will face high fines

    Applications to future jobs could be impacted due to the DWI on your record


    After you have been arrested, you need the assistance of a St. Paul Criminal Defense Lawyer to make sure your rights are not violated. You also do not want to speak to anyone after the arrest because anything you say, even if you feel it to be completely innocent, could be used against you in some way.

    When you call your attorney, however, you are presented with legal options and this can make a great deal of difference after the arrest. For instance, your attorney will ask for access to the arrest reports so that they can be reviewed. These reports include any written documents, audio and video recordings, lab reports, Intoxilyzer logs, and breath analysis results. Hospital and forensic processes will also be evaluated. Every step is taken in order to have the charges reduced or dismissed.


    After being arrested for DWI, there are court proceedings and, if your vehicle was forefeited, there are vehicle proceedings as well. It can be very difficult for you to retrieve your vehicle on your own and it can be hard for you to fight to get your license back. So now you not only have the criminal charges against you, but you have to fight back for two very important parts of your life. You can’t go to work without a car or driving privileges, so you need an attorney to fight the fight for you.


    A free case evaluation is necessary to ask you what happened when you were arrested and to evaluate certain details regarding the case. This allows your attorney to get to know you and you get to know your attorney. In other words, you can decide if your attorney is the right attorney to handle your case.

    It’s also important that you don’t wait to make the call because preparation of a DWI case can take time. If a misstep was taken during the arrest process, if you were injured, or if a test was not conducted properly, it will be found out and it can be presented in court.