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Driving Under the Influence Is it a Misdemeanor or a Felony in Minnesota?

An arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) in Minnesota can be a very confusing process. Sometimes it’s difficult to even decipher what you’ve been charged with and how many charges you actually face.

Let’s try to clarify Minnesota DUI charges.

In Minnesota, driving under the influence automatically results in two cases. The first is a criminal case resulting from your arrest for the DUI. The second case is an administrative case coordinated by the Department of Licensing which results in your loss of driving privileges for a specific period of time if the Department determines you were DWI when you were arrested.

Both cases can be complicated and time consuming. There are also strict deadlines to file certain papers or you automatically lose the right to contest certain things. This is why it’s so vital to seek the assistance of Minnesota DWI attorneys as soon as possible.

Many factors affect what you may be legally prosecuted for and what may be taken away from you. For instance, if you refused to comply with the chemical test request, you may face additional criminal charges. Or if you have a previous DUI offense, you may face gross misdemeanor or even felony DUI charges.

Plus, your vehicle may be subject to permanent forfeiture, and your driver’s  license may be revoked for months --- or even years. Potential consequences may seem overwhelming. That is why you must face them directly with a strong drunk driving defense.

The role of your Minnesota DWI attorneys are multifold. They act as an advocate on your behalf with the prosecutor and the judge. In addition, they examine the charges and the evidence related to your driving under the influence arrest. Finally, your attorneys mount an aggressive drunk driving defense that limits your exposure to penalties and may sometimes even get the charges and consequences completely dismissed.

In Minnesota, a first time conviction for a DUI could result in up to 90 days in jail, up to $1000.00 in fines and mandatory participation in an alcohol education or chemical dependency treatment program. Typically, these charges are misdemeanors.

However, if certain aggravating factors apply, it is possible to be prosecuted for a gross misdemeanor crime even if you have never had an alcohol-related driving offense in the past. Gross misdemeanors carry up to a year in jail and a $3000.00 fine. 

Repeat DUI charges may result in felonies carrying three (3) years of imprisonment and a $14,000.00 fine. If there is an accident resulting in death or significant injury to another person, felony charges will be brought which can result in even more years of prison.

In any case, there are other civil consequences pertaining to your driving privileges and/or vehicle insurance and ownership as well.

As part of your drunk driving defense, your Minnesota DWI attorneys will attempt to get the charges dismissed, reduced, or acquitted. It may be possible to negotiate a brief sentence, a reduction of fines, and a license which allows you to drive to and from work. An experienced attorney will handle your DUI charge in a way that makes it possible for you to carry on with your life as your case is pending --- and put it back together when the matter is finally resolved.