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I’ve Been Charged with a Third DWI. What Happens Now?

by Jul 22, 2019Criminal Defense Attorney, Dea Cortney, DWI / DUI

DUI/DWI is a serious charge in Minnesota. The penalties vary greatly depending on whether you have any previous violations and the circumstances of your arrest, including your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If you were recently arrested for a DWI, you should consult with a DWI Defense Attorney right away to review the specifics of your case.

You may already be aware that a third DWI conviction carries stiff consequences including jail time, fines, and vehicle forfeiture. You may face civil/administrative penalties in addition to criminal sanctions, and the timeframe in which to deal with these things is tight. To protect your rights, your assets, and your freedom, it is imperative you call an experienced DWI Defense Attorney as soon as possible.

Though we can’t provide a definite penalty for your charge, in this post we cover the penalties typical for third-time DWI cases in Minnesota. Please also check out our previous posts on first and second time DWIs.

DWI Offense Criminal Penalties

It is a crime to drive, operate, or be in control of a motor vehicle in Minnesota under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance and/or when a person’s alcohol concentration is 0.08 or more. If you have already been convicted of one or more DWI(s) within the past ten years, you may be charged with a gross misdemeanor if you drive (or operate or control) a motor vehicle with a BAC over .08.

Because of Minnesota’s implied consent laws, refusal to take a test is a gross misdemeanor. A test refusal will always be considered an additional charge to a DWI.

Third DWI Offense Criminal Penalties

While the maximum criminal penalties for a third DWI are no different than those for a second DWI, the administrative sanctions are much more severe for a third DWI.

Administrative Sanctions

In addition to criminal penalties, DWI carries administrative (or civil) penalties. Because of the implied consent laws, a driver may be subject to these penalties EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT CONVICTED of a crime unless they TAKE PROMPT ACTION to prevent license revocation, and in the case of a third DWI and some first or second DWIs, vehicle forfeiture.

What does this all mean?

Even if you or a loved one dealt with a second-DWI conviction in the past, this all may seem overwhelming and new. That is because a lot of the penalties associated with a third DWI are different, and can be, frankly, quite scary. Some of the terms and consequences you may be unfamiliar with are described below:

Inimical to Public Safety

If you are convicted of a second-degree (i.e. third-offense) DWI, or you fail or refuse a test, your driver’s license will be cancelled as “inimical to public safety.” Inimical means “tending to obstruct or harm” and the phrase refers to licenses that will never be reinstated unless specific provisions are met. In Minnesota, strict rehabilitation requirements are required (see below), in addition to long waiting periods and hefty reinstatement fees.

It is also important to note that a license is revoked (or in this case cancelled) upon certification from a peace officer that there existed probable cause to believe a person had been driving, operating, or was in physical control of a motor vehicle in violation of Minnesota’s DWI law and that the driver either failed or refused a blood alcohol concentration test. The cancellation period for a driver with two qualified prior impaired driving incidents within the past ten years is for a period of not less than three years.

The cancellation is not necessarily contingent on a conviction. You must file a Petition for Judicial Review within 60 days of the alleged DWI to preserve your right to contest the license revocation/cancellation. If you don’t, you could lose your license for three years even if you are found not guilty!

Rehabilitation Requirements

Before a driver whose license has been cancelled as inimical to public safety can be considered for reinstatement, they must maintain (and demonstrate) abstinence for a certain period of time and prove they have completed rehabilitation. The minimum period of abstinence for reinstatement after a first rehabilitation is one year.

Ignition Interlock

Ignition interlock is a blood alcohol measurement machine that can be installed in one’s vehicle. The driver blows into the machine in order to start the vehicle and periodically while driving. The car will not start if alcohol is detected. Although there is a cost to use the program, ignition interlock gives those with revoked or cancelled licenses an option to drive sooner than they otherwise might.

Vehicle Forfeiture

Minnesota law provides that a vehicle driven during the commission of a designated offense (in this case, a second-degree DWI) is subject to forfeiture if the driver is convicted of the crime. However, the vehicle could still be subject to forfeiture even if the driver is not convicted if the driver fails to preserve their rights by filing a Petition for Judicial Review within 60 days of the alleged DWI.

Contact a Minnesota DWI Defense Attorney

If you’ve been charged with a DWI of any severity level you need the timely advice and expertise of a skilled DWI Defense Attorney. Call the experienced and dedicated attorneys at Sieben Edmunds Miller PLLC to have them start working on your case today.

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