Most first-time DWI offenders in Minnesota are charged with Fourth-Degree DWI. This is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
Question: I was charged with DWI. Why do I have two separate charges?
Answer: In almost all DWI cases, persons are charged with (1) Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol and (2) Driving With an Alcohol Concentration of .08 or More. The “Driving While Under the Influence” charge simply alleges that the driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol use, thereby putting the safety of others at risk. The “Driving With an Alcohol Concentration of .08 or More” charge is similar to the DUI charge but is more specific because it is measured by the driver’s blood alcohol concentration. If the driver is operating a motor vehile with a an alcohol concentration over .08, that driver is
Question: Can I still be charged with DUI if my test indicates a blood alcohol concentration of less than .08?
Answer: Yes. If a driver has a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more, s/he will almost certainly be charged with both offenses. But if a driver’s blood alcohol concentration is less than .08, s/he can still be charged with “Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol” but probably not charged with “Driving With an Alcohol Concentration of .08 or More.”
Question: If this is my first DWI, why am I being charged with a Third-Degree DWI instead of a Fourth-Degree DWI?
Answer: The two factors that can elevate a Fourth-Degree DWI to a Third-Degree DWI are:
Having an alcohol concentration of 0.20 or more as measured at the time, or within two 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
Also, having a qualified prior impaired driving incident (a past DWI or implied consent conviction) within the ten years immediately preceding the current offense can enhance a would-be Fourth-Degree DWI to a Third-Degree DWI.
Question: If I decide to plead guilty to my DWI, what can I expect to happen?
Answer: The good news is that a first-time DWI offender probably will not spend any time in jail, even though the maximum sentence is 90 days in custody. While there is no guarantee of this, most first-time sanctions include a fine (somewhere between $150 to $500), community service (between 1 and 5 days), an alcohol awareness program (such as a one-day DWI class), probation (typically 1 year) and completion of an alcohol use assessment and/or attendance at a MADD victim impact panel.
Question: Now that I know what the consequences will be, why should I hire a lawyer?
Answer: The decision to hire an attorney is always wise. While you may not think there are any defenses to your DWI case, an attorney may surprise you with positive news. The police do not always follow proper protocol, whether during an initial vehicle stop, administering a breath, blood or urine test, or informing you of your rights. Whatever possible defense you may have, the only way you can truly beat your DWI case is to challenge it. Without an attorney, this is almost impossible.
If you are facing a DWI charge and want to learn more about your options, contact DWI Defense Attorney Christopher Keyser direct at (612) 338-5007 for a free and confidential case evaluation. You can also send a direct email by filling out the “Free Consultation” box to the left of this page. Your important call or email will be answered 24 hours a day.