Third Degree DWI

Third degree DWI is a gross misdemeanor charge. It is more serious than than a misdemeanor fourth degree DWI charge but less serious than a gross misdemeanor second degree DWI. In Minnesota, drivers face third degree DWI charges when arrested for allegedly committing a DWI with one “aggravating factor” present. Aggravating factors include:


  • Having a qualified prior impaired driving incident within the 10 years immediately preceding the current offense
  • Having an alcohol concentration of 0.20 or more as measured at the time, or within 2 hours of the time, of the offense
  • Having a child under the age of 16 in the motor vehicle at the time of the offense if the child is more than 36 months younger than the offender.


Third degree DWI defense lawyer Christopher Keyser routinely handles gross misdemeanor DWI charges throughout Minnesota resulting in dismissed or reduced charges. Gross misdemeanor DWI defense attorney Chistopher Keyser was named a Super Lawyer Rising Star and a Top 100 Trial Lawyer. Read his client testimonials and reviews as well as his recent case victories.




A third degree DWI charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days in jail. However, how the 30 days is served may vary depending on the county or city where the case is, the driver’s record, and the circumstances surrounding the DWI incident. Minnesota law requires a minimum of 48 hours to be served in jail with the remaining 28 days on electronic home monitoring (sometimes called “house arrest”). Additional consequences stemming from a gross misdemeanor third degree DWI arrest may include probation for 2 or more years, completion of a chemical dependency evaluation (sometimes called an alcohol assessment or a Rule 25), attendance at a Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Panel, and a fine.


A third degree DWI charge usually comes with a separate license revocation of 1-2 years depending on whether the driver has any prior criminal DWI convictions within the past 10 years or any alcohol-related drivers license revocations in the past 10 years. Third degree DWI charges may also trigger a revocation of driver’s license plates. During the period of license plate revocation, a driver must obtain special issue plates (also called “W” or “whiskey plates”) in order to operate a motor vehicle. This applies not only to the vehicle used during a DWI incident but also any other vehicle the driver owns title to. The maximum penalty for a gross misdemeanor third degree DWI is 1 year in jail and/or a $3,000.00 fine, however it is rare for a person to receive a maximum sentence. Third degree DWI can also refer to criminal test refusal.


Third Degree DWI Challenges


There are several strategies a Minneapolis DWI lawyer can use to fight third degree DWI charges. Third degree DWI defense lawyers will analyze the initial interaction between a driver and the police, in particular the reasons for stopping the driver’s vehicle. Other aspects considered for third degree DWI challenges include the manner and method of the chemical testing, the reliability of the testing, and the observations of the police officer during any roadside interaction with the driver as well as during investigation at the police station. It is uncommon for a third degree DWI lawyer to find zero challenges in a case. The police reports, witness statements, police officer dashboard video camera evidence, and testing reports are all scrutinized for accuracy, flaws, and inconsistencies to build a strong defense for every third degree DWI charge. Depending on the specific facts and circumstances of the case, a third degree DWI charge may be dismissed or reduced to a less severe charge such as fourth degree DWI or careless driving.


Contact Minneapolis Third Degree DWI Lawyer


A third degree DWI charge can be stressful, especially for someone with no criminal record. If you face third degree DWI charges, you have options. To speak with Minneapolis gross misdemeanor third degree DWI Defense Lawyer Christopher Keyser, call our office at 612-338-5007. We will provide a free case evaluation and discuss defense options for overcoming your third degree DWI charges.



If You Need a Top Minnesota Criminal Lawyer Call 312-338-5007



With offices in Minneapolis and Stillwater, Minnesota, Keyser Law, P.A. handles cases throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area including:




Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Champlin, Chanhassen, Corcoran, Crystal, Dayton, Deephaven, Eden Prairie, Edina, Excelsior, Golden Valley, Greenfield, Greenwood, Hanover, Hopkins, Independence, Long Lake, Loretto, Maple Grove, Maple Plain, Medicine Lake, Medina, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Minnetrista, Mound, New Hope, Orono, Osseo, Plymouth, Richfield, Robbinsdale, Rockford, Rogers, Shorewood, Spring Park, St. Anthony Village, St. Bonifacius, St. Louis Park, Wayzata, Woodland and Hassan Township.



Afton, Bayport, Birchwood Village, Cottage Grove, Dellwood, Forest Lake, Grant, Hugo, Lake Elmo, Lake St. Croix Beach, Lakeland Shores, Lakeland, Landfall, Mahtomedi, Marine on St. Croix, Newport, Oak Park Heights, Oakdale, Pine Springs, Scandia, St. Marys Point, St. Paul Park, Stillwater, Willernie, White Bear Lake, Woodbury, Baytown, Denmark, Grey Cloud Island, May, West Lakeland, Garen and Point Douglas.


Arden Hills, Blaine, Falcon Heights, Gem Lake, Lauderdale, Little Canada, Maplewood, Mounds View, New Brighton, North Oaks, North St. Paul, Roseville, Shoreview, St. Anthony, St. Paul, Spring Lake Park, Vadnais Heights, White Bear Lake and White Bear Lake Township.


Andover, Anoka, Bethel, Blaine, Centerville, Circle Pines, Columbia Heights, Columbus, Coon Rapids, East Bethel, Fridley, Ham Lake, Hilltop, Lexington, Lino Lakes, Nowthen, Oak Grove, Ramsey and St. Francis.


Apple Valley, Burnsville, Coates, Eagan, Farmington, Hampton, Hastings, Inver Grove Heights, Lakeville, Lilydale, Mendota, Mendota Heights, Miesville, New Trier, Northfield, Randolph, Rosemount, South St. Paul, Sunfish Lake, Vermillion and West St. Paul.