The Minnesota legislature has enacted laws that call for minimum DWI sentences in certain circumstances. Many prosecutors and judges take the viewpoint that the statutory minimum sentences are mandatory. It is the job of the DWI defense attorney to convince the prosecutors and courts to deviate from the minimum sentences and to give them a moral and legal basis to do so.
Minnesota Statute 169A.275 calls for minimum periods of incarceration for offenders with one or more prior offense during the previous 10 years. An individual with one such prior offense is to serve a minimum of 30 days incarceration. However, each of the mandatory minimum sentencing provisions delineates a minimum period of incarceration, and then identifies a small portion of the sentence that “must be served in a local correctional facility.” Here, the first 48 hours must be served in the local jail and then the remainder can sometimes be served on house arrest or some other alternative to jail incarceration.
An individual with two prior offenses in 10 years is subject to a 90 day minimum incarceration rule. The statute calls for the first 30 days to be served consecutively in the jail. Alternatively, the court may place the offender into an intensive DWI probation and treatment program. This option comes along with a minimum of six days incarceration in the local jail.
The mandatory minimum periods of incarceration just get worse from there. A fourth time offender is to serve 180 days and fifth timers receive one year. Also, remember that an offender with three prior offenses during the preceding 10 years can be charged with a felony First Degree DWI and can be looking at prison.
Now it bears mentioning that these “mandatory” minimum sentences for gross misdemeanor offenses are not always followed to the letter. Often prosecutors and judges can be convinced to look at the details of the particular offense and the background of the specific offender to determine whether the mandatory minimum sentences are actually appropriate. Also, a provision enacted in 2010 provides that the court “is not required to sentence a person as provided in subdivisions 1 to 4 if the judge requires the person as a condition of probation to drive only motor vehicles equipped with an ignition interlock device…”
Contact the attorneys at Sieben Edmunds PLLC if you find yourself facing any of the mandatory minimum DWI penalties described here. Check back soon for Part Three in the Sieben Edmunds DWI Blog Series.
Also check out: DWI Blog Series – Part One – DWI Implied Consent.