When is a DWI a Felony in MN?
Not every DWI is a felony in Minnesota. You can face charges for felony DWI, but a series of aggravating factors is required to trigger a felony DWI in Minnesota. In fact, a large percentage of DUI/DWI crimes in MN are felonies.
But even if the court finds you guilty of a misdemeanor, the penalties you face can be life-changing.
In addition to the potential for going to jail, you will have to pay substantial fines as well as court costs and fees. You could lose your driver license, your license plates, or even your vehicle.
With the help of a DUI defense attorney, these charges can potentially be reduced or eliminated. Contact our office today to discuss your specific case and possible defenses.
What Is a Misdemeanor DWI?
Typically, you will face misdemeanor charges for your first DWI offense. If any aggravating factors apply to your arrest, however, the court could charge you with a gross misdemeanor. Aggravating factors include:
- Having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.16 or above,
- Having a child age 16 or under in the car,
- Refusing to submit to BAC testing, and
- Having prior DWI convictions.
Upon conviction for misdemeanor DUI/DWI, you could face 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Although penalties are less harsh than the penalties for a felony, a gross misdemeanor DWI conviction could earn you up to one year in county jail. You will also face monetary fines up to $3,000 as well as a lengthy suspension of your driver license.
What Is a Felony DWI in MN?
In Minnesota, you will face felony DWI charges under any of the following circumstances:
- You have a prior felony DWI conviction on your record;
- You had a prior felony vehicular injury or homicide conviction involving impairment; or
- You had three or more DWI convictions in the past ten years.
Although you may associate DWI with drinking and driving, you face the same penalties if you drive while under the influence of a Schedule I or II drug in any amount.
Costs & Consequences of Felony DWI
Upon conviction for a felony DWI in MN, you face up to seven years in a state prison and as much as $14,000 in fines.
If you have prior felonies on your record, your penalties could be much worse. Further, the prosecutor can tack on additional charges based on the circumstances of your arrest.
With a felony conviction, you also face years of supervised probation, long-term alcohol monitoring, and a host of administrative penalties. Administrative penalties may include:
- The cancelation or revocation of your driver license,
- The requirement to install an ignition interlock device on all your vehicles,
- Impoundment of your license plates, and/or
- Forfeiture of your vehicle.
You will have a permanent criminal record, which can interfere with your ability to get a job or rent a home. You will also struggle to find affordable insurance coverage as a convicted DWI offender.
When Should You Contact a Minnesota DUI Lawyer?
Any DWI arrest – felony or misdemeanor – can substantially affect every aspect of your life. Don’t risk your future by agreeing to a deal with the prosecutor or trying to represent yourself in court.
We have assisted hundreds of clients facing misdemeanor and felony DUI/DWI charges. Let us put our extensive knowledge, experience, and resources to work for you.
Still have questions to see if your Minnesota DWI charge is a felony? We offer a no-cost, no-obligation consultation to answer your questions and help you make the right choice for your future. Contact us today to learn more.
Attorney John Arechigo has a passion for criminal defense in St. Paul, MN. John received his J.D., from Hamline University School of Law and also carries a Bachelor of Arts from, The University of Minnesota. John was named Attorney of the Year for 2019 by Minnesota Lawyer. Additionally, John was also named as a 2019 Rising Star and was selected to Minnesota Super Lawyers in 2021. He devotes nearly 100% of his practice to defending individuals charged with a crime.