Minnesota DWI 101: The Basics
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Category: DWI/DUI

In Minnesota, it is a crime for any person to drive, operate, or be in physical control of any motor vehicle (except for motorboats in operation and off-road recreational vehicles) when:


  • the person is under the influence of alcohol
  • the person is under the influence of a controlled substance
  • the person is knowingly under the influence of a hazardous substance that affects the nervous system, brain, or muscles of the person so as to substantially impair the person’s ability to drive or operate the motor vehicle
  • the person is under the influence of a combination of any two or more of the elements listed above
  • the person’s alcohol concentration at the time, or as measured within two hours of the time, of driving, operating, or being in physical control of the motor vehicle is 0.08 or more;
  • the vehicle is a commercial motor vehicle and the person’s alcohol concentration at the time, or as measured within two hours of the time, of driving, operating, or being in physical control of the commercial motor vehicle is 0.04 or more; or
  • the person’s body contains any amount of a controlled substance other than marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols


Minnesota DWI Charges


Minnesota statutes outline four primary categories of DWI crimes:



Minnesota DWI charges may be “enhanced” or made more serious if “aggravating factors” are present at the time of arrest. These aggravating factors include:


  • A qualified prior impaired driving incident within the ten years immediately preceding the current offense
  •  Having an alcohol concentration of .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


Most cases involving a first-time offense with no prior DWI convictions on record result in Fourth Degree DWI charges. Most second-time DWI offenses result in a Third-Degree DWI charge, and most third-time offenses result in a Second Degree DWI charge. A fourth DWI charge within 10 years or three DWI convictions (or implied consent “convictions”) will result in First Degree Felony DWI charges.


This is a general overview of Minnesota’s DWI laws. For more information or to discuss your legal issue in depth, contact our Minneapolis DWI Lawyer at (612) 338-5007 for a free DWI case evaluation.

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.