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If you’ve been charged with an impaired driving offense in Minnesota, it’s important to understand MN DWI laws and how they could influence the outcome of your case. Not all DWIs are treated the same in Minnesota, and understanding the ins and outs of the state’s laws can help you prepare a solid legal defense. Even if you haven’t been charged with a DWI, you may want to know what to expect if you or a loved one is ever faced with this situation. Read on to learn more about how Minnesota state law treats impaired driving offenses.

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What Is A DWI Under Minnesota Law?

DWI stands for “driving while impaired.” Impairment can be caused by alcohol, illicit drugs, prescription drugs, over the counter medicines, and any other substances that can impair the judgment of a motorized vehicle operator. Specifically, MN DWI laws prohibit the operation or physical control of a motor vehicle within the state or its boundary waters if someone is:

  • Under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance
  • Under the influence of an intoxicating substance and they either know or have reason to know that this substance may cause impairment
  • Registering a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more within two hours of operating or being in physical control of a motor vehicle
  • Registering a BAC of 0.04 percent or more within two hours of operating or being in physical control of a commercial motor vehicle
  • Registering evidence that their body contains any amount of a Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 controlled substance, with the exceptions of marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinols

It is also a misdemeanor crime for an underage motor vehicle operator to have any evidence of alcohol in their body.

MN DWI Laws: Degrees Of Punishment

Some states divide impaired driving offenses into those classified as misdemeanors and those classified as felonies. Minnesota, however, makes DWI offenses punishable according to four distinct classification degrees.

First-Degree DWI

A driver can be found guilty of a first-degree driving while impaired offense in Minnesota if they have been convicted of three or more impaired driving offenses within the last ten years, have previously been convicted of a DWI felony in Minnesota, or have been previously convicted of other, specific qualifying felonies.

Conviction of a first-degree DWI offense in Minnesota risks mandatory penalties. You may also risk a term of incarceration for up to seven years and/or a fine of up to $14,000.

Second-Degree DWI

A driver can be found guilty of a second-degree driving while impaired offense in Minnesota if they have been convicted of two DWI offenses within the past ten years. If a motorist has only been convicted of one DWI offense within the last ten years, they can still be convicted of a second-degree DWI if they refused to submit to chemical testing at the time of this latest offense.

Conviction of a second-degree DWI offense in Minnesota is classified as a gross misdemeanor, which carries different penalties depending on how many broader offenses a motorist has on their criminal record. They may be sentenced to long-term monitoring in addition to applicable gross misdemeanor penalties.

Third-Degree DWI

A driver can be found guilty of a third-degree driving while impaired offense in Minnesota if they have been convicted of one other DWI offense within the last ten years. Like a second-degree DWI, a third-degree DWI is a gross misdemeanor and is subject to both long-term monitoring and the same general penalties based upon a motorist’s criminal record.

Fourth-Degree DWI

A driver can be found guilty of a fourth-degree driving while impaired offense in Minnesota if this is their first DWI conviction within the past 10 years. A fourth-degree DWI is a misdemeanor in Minnesota, which means that a conviction risks up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of no more than $1,000.

Want To Learn More About MN DWI Laws? Get A Free Case Evaluation Today

If you’ve been charged with a DWI offense in Minnesota or you simply want to know more about your rights, consider speaking with an attorney. For more information, schedule a personalized, free case evaluation today.

Legal Disclaimer: This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation and should not be interpreted as creating an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions, you should seek the advice of an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

Related Resources

Want to learn more about DUI laws and what to expect if you’re driving through another state? Read more from the Jalopnik legal team before you get on the road.

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