I’ve discussed the various levels or degrees of DWI charges in Minnesota on our website or previous blog postings in the past, but one of the most common questions we receive from prospective clients is to explain the different levels of DUI offenses. So, I figured a quick review would be helpful.
There are four degrees of DWI or DUI offense in Minnesota:
- First Degree (Felony) DWI;
- Second Degree (Gross Misdemeanor) DWI;
- Third Degree (Gross Misdemeanor) DWI: and
- Fourth Degree (Misdemeanor) DWI.
The degree or level of DWI offense an individual is charged with depends on the presence of what is called “aggravating factors’. The more aggravating factors that exist at the time of an individuals arrest, then the more serious the level of DWI charge.
The aggravating factors as acknowledged by Minnesota Statute include:
- A qualified prior impaired driving incident within 10 years of the current DWI charge or incident;
- Having a blood alcohol concentration of .20 or more at the time of driving or as measured within two hours of the time of offense;
- Having a child under the age of 16 in the motor vehicle at the time of driving or the offense if the child is more than 36 months younger than the offender.
A driver will be charged with a fourth-degree DWI, if none of the above aggravating factors are present at the time of the offense. A driver will be charged with third-degree DWI, if there is at least one aggravating factor present at the time of the offense. A driver will be charged with a second-degree DWI, if there is at least two aggravating factors present at the time of the offense. With regard to felony first-degree DWI, a driver must have at least three qualified prior impaired driving incidents within ten years immediately preceding the current offense or was previously convicted of a felony DWI in Minnesota. Therefore, other than having a prior felony DWI conviction, the only aggravating factor that is relevant to enhancing a new offense to a felony level DUI is if the individual has a prior DWI conviction or a prior DUI related license revocation within the last ten years.
Lastly, it is important to note that each and every degree or level of DWI offense in Minnesota carries with it certain complexities. Such things as mandatory jail or prison sentences, license plate impoundment, mandatory high bail amounts and motor vehicle forfeitures can exist for various degrees of DWI offenses. Therefore, I strongly advise that an individual charged with any level of DUI offense seek the assistance or advice of a highly-skilled Minnesota DWI Lawyer.