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What are the penalties for a first-time DWI offense in Minnesota?

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Facing any type of criminal charges can be a frightening and overwhelming experience. This can be especially true for anyone who is suddenly facing charges of driving while intoxicated (DWI) for the first time. The potential of a driver’s license suspension, substantial fines and even the possibility of a jail sentence can create a lot of stress and uncertainty about one’s future.

In Minnesota, any blood-alcohol concentration level (BAC) at or above .08 for those behind the wheel of a stationary or moving vehicle, or at or above .04 for drivers of a commercial vehicle, can be grounds for a DWI arrest. Upon a conviction, there are both administrative sanctions and criminal penalties to which one may become subject. Repercussions for first-time offenders with a BAC below .16 can include up to a $1,000 fine, a maximum of three months in jail and a suspension of driving privileges for up to 90 days. Those whose BAC levels were equal to or greater than .16 could incur up to a $3,000 fine, no more than one year in jail and a maximum driver’s license suspension of 90 days.

What if there was a child in the vehicle?

The potential ramifications for DWI charges become even harsher in situations where a child was also in the vehicle. Those facing these charges for the first time with a BAC below .16 and a child present could serve up to one full year in jail, be fined a maximum of $3,000, and lose their driving privileges for up to 90 days. Any individuals accused of DWI with a BAC equal to or greater than .16 with a child in the vehicle could face up to one year in jail, a maximum fine of $3,000, and either the suspension of their driver’s license for a full year or a restricted license in conjunction with an ignition interlock system.

While facing formal accusations for driving while intoxicated is a serious matter, it is still far from a conviction. Anyone charged with DWI in the state of Minnesota is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law. An experienced criminal defense attorney can thoroughly examine the details of one’s case, explore all possible legal avenues and determine the best possible defense strategy for trial if necessary.


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