A felony DWI is the most serious DWI anyone can be charged with in the State of Minnesota. It carries immense consequences that will follow you for years after your conviction, from long-term license revocation to plate impoundment to fines and even prison time. In fact, you may begin to see negative consequences as soon as you are charged – before you are even convicted of the crime. This is a very impactful charge, so it is vital to work with experienced DWI lawyers in Minnesota to work to obtain a fair and favorable outcome to your case.
What causes a felony DWI charge in Minnesota?
Defendants may be charged with felony DWI for several reasons. The most common reason for being charged with a felony DWI is if you have had three past DWI convictions in the last 10 years. This is generally how defendants come to face their first felony DWI in Minnesota. However, you can also be charged with subsequent felonies if you’ve had a past felony conviction for DWI. A defendant may also receive this charge if they have been convicted of felony-level criminal vehicular operation or homicide that involved alcohol or drugs in the past.
MN DWI/Drunk Driving Laws
Minnesota’s drunk driving laws may seem straightforward, but even the commonly-known BAC limit may be ignored in certain cases. The legal BAC limit is 0.08, but it is possible to be arrested at lower levels based on the scenario. If a law enforcement officer believes that you are impaired, they may arrest you for DWI even if you “pass” a breath test. It may be more difficult for prosecutors to prove your guilt without a failed Breathalyzer, but failing a field sobriety test or body cam footage of obvious impairment can still be used as evidence. These circumstances will not lead to a felony DWI, but it is important for anyone – especially those who have been convicted of a DWI in the past 10 years – to remember that things aren’t as clear-cut as they may seem.
There are many factors that can also increase the severity of a DWI charge, but in Minnesota, the charge of felony DWI is entirely dependent on your past history. If a defendant has no past convictions, they can be charged with a maximum of a second-degree DWI. If you were under the impression that your charge is a felony but don’t have a previous criminal conviction for DWI or vehicular homicide, you may be misinformed and should speak to your criminal defense attorney.
Minnesota Drunk Driving Penalties
While a DWI misdemeanor in Minnesota will generally result in a fine and driver’s license revocation, a felony DWI is likely to come with a sentence that includes at least some jail or prison time. That’s not to say you aren’t already dealing with issues like license revocation, plate impoundment, vehicle forfeiture, chemical dependency treatment, and probation– you may have had these consequences occur during a past DWI. But for most judges, the goal after a felony DWI conviction is to get especially tough with sentencing to ensure the defendant doesn’t continue to drive while intoxicated. Minnesota’s standard sentencing guidelines mean that a judge can’t impose an extremely long sentence simply based on their own opinion of the case, but the maximum sentence for a felony DWI is seven years – still a long time to be behind bars. A criminal defense lawyer can help you ensure you don’t receive an overly harsh sentence for a felony DWI conviction.
Have you or a family member been charged with first-degree (felony) DWI? Sieben Edmunds Miller’s DWI defense lawyers can help protect the defendant’s rights and fight to obtain a fair verdict. Contact our criminal defense team to get started.
If you’re facing a DWI charge, you can trust the experienced Minnesota lawyers at Sieben Edmunds Miller to advocate for you. We proudly serve the cities of Burnsville, Bloomington, Minneapolis, Woodbury, Eagan, Mendota Heights, St. Paul, Hastings, Hudson, and River Falls in DWI cases. We also serve surrounding cities in Dakota County and throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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