Aggravating Factors and Enhanced Penalties for DWIs in Minnesota

A first-time DWI in Minnesota carries harsh consequences, including jail time, fines, and loss of driving privileges. When aggravating factors are present, such as prior DWIs or an elevated blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the penalties are much stiffer. The length of incarceration, amount of fine, and duration of driver’s license revocation can all increase. The punishments can seriously affect your ability to live life as you once did. A criminal defense lawyer can help you fight your charge and pursue a favorable outcome, potentially limiting the impacts of a violation on your future.

Regardless of the circumstances, if you have been charged with a DWI, schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Minneapolis attorneys at Brockton D. Hunter P.A. by calling (612) 979-1112 or submitting an online contact form today.

The Penalties for a First-Time DWI Without Aggravating Factors

The DWI statute in Minnesota (Minnesota Statutes § 169A.20) says that you commit a violation if you operate a vehicle when your BAC is 0.08 or higher (0.04 if you’re driving a commercial vehicle). You also break the law if you were under the influence of alcohol (regardless of BAC) or a controlled or intoxicating substance and could not drive your car safely.

After your first DWI, you may be subject to criminal and administrative penalties. The punishments the court can impose upon a conviction depend on your specific situation. That said, if no aggravating factors were present, you could go to jail for up to 90 days and be fined up to $1,000.

Additionally, you could lose your driver’s license for 90 days. Based on your circumstances, for the first 15 days, you wouldn’t be able to drive at all. Then for the remaining time, you could have limited driving privileges. Alternatively, you would be allowed unrestricted driving privileges for the entire revocation period if you have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on your vehicle.

As mentioned previously, the penalties for driving while impaired can increase if aggravating or other factors were present at the time of the offense.

Let’s explore these in more detail.

Variables Resulting in Stiffer DWI Penalties

Aggravating circumstances are factors that make a crime worse. Thus, a court can render greater penalties upon a conviction.

According to Minnesota Statues § 169A.03 subdivision 3, aggravating factors include:

  • Prior DWI violations within 10 years of the current offense,
  • A BAC of 0.16 or higher, or
  • A child under 16 years of age in the vehicle at the time of the offense, provided the child was more than 3 years younger than the driver.

Below are the penalty enhancements when these and other factors are present.

Prior DWI Violations

The criminal and administrative penalties can increase if you’re convicted of a second or subsequent offense.

For a second violation:

  • You could be subject to up to 1 year in jail,
  • Your fine can go up to a maximum of $3,000
  • You can be without driving privileges for 1 year
  • Your license plate can be impounded

The jail term and fines for a third violation are the same as those for a second violation. However, the effects on your driving privileges are more severe.

You could face the following:

  • Your driver’s license may be canceled
  • You must go 3 years without having alcohol or drugs detected in your system to have the IID removed from your vehicle
  • Your license plate may be impounded

A fourth DWI is a felony in Minnesota. That means the penalties are even stricter.

Examples of the possible punishments include the following:

  • You can be ordered to up to 7 years in prison
  • You can be subject to a maximum fine of $14,000
  • Your driver’s license may be canceled
  • You must go 4 to 6 years without alcohol or drugs detected in your system to have the IID removed from your vehicle
  • Your license play may be impounded

Elevated BAC

Your BAC is considered elevated when it’s at 0.16 or higher. In this situation, you could face increased penalties even if it is your first offense.

Some of the penalties you could face are as follows:

  • First-time violation:
    • Up to 1 year in jail (as opposed to 90 days)
    • Up to $3,000 in fines (as opposed to $1,000)
    • Driver’s license revocation for 1 year or 1 year of IID restricted driving privileges
  • Second-time violation:
    • The jail term and fine are the same as with a BAC of 0.08
    • The length of driver’s license revocation increases to 2 years (as opposed to 1 year) or 2 years of IID restricted driving privileges

Child Passenger in the Vehicle

If you are convicted of driving while impaired with a person under 16 years of age in the car, the penalties for a first offense increase. You could be ordered to up to 1 year in jail and/or up to $3,000 in fines. Additionally, you may lose your driving privileges for 1 year.

Criminal Vehicular Operation

Criminal vehicular operation includes DWI offenses resulting in injury or death to another person. In any of these circumstances, the potential conviction penalties are severe.

DWI resulting in death can lead to:

  • Imprisonment for up to 10 years
  • A fine of up to $20,000
  • Immediate driver’s license suspension
  • Driver’s license revocation for 15 years.

DWI resulting in great bodily harm is punishable by:

  • Up to 5 years in prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Immediate driver’s license suspension
  • At least 6 years of driver’s license revocation

DWI resulting in substantial bodily harm can be penalized by:

  • Up to 3 years in prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Immediate driver’s licenses suspension
  • At least 2 years of driver’s license revocation

DWI resulting in bodily harm carries the following:

  • Up to 1 year in prison
  • Up to $3,000 in fines
  • At least 2 years of driver’s license revocation

Contact Brockton D. Hunter P.A.

Fighting a DWI charge requires a careful review of the facts, including examining the machines used to analyze BAC levels. Our Minneapolis lawyers conduct thorough research, looking at each case from various angles to determine how to defend our clients.

Schedule a consultation with us by calling (612) 979-1112 or contacting us online.