Written by attorney Max A. Keller

Minnesota DWI Mandatory Minimum Penalties

DWI penalties vary throughout the state. There are. however, certain mandatory minimum penalties that apply regardless of the county in which your offense occurred. These penalties are set by statute. Generally, for sentencing, the following ranges of DWI penalties exist:

4th Degree DWI (misdemeanor):

** 4th Degree DWI ** (first offense below .20) does not carry any mandatory minimum penalties. However, some counties impose minimum penalties on their own. For example, some metro counties (Hennepin and Dakota, among others) require an offender to complete a “one day program." This program doesnot involve going to jail for one day, but it does require the individual to devote an entire day to DWI-related education and evaluations. Metro counties usually do require some community service and fines as well. Outstate counties occasionally require jail time for a misdemeanor DWI. For example, Redwood County and Fillmore County, among others, require an offender to do a weekend in jail for all misdemeanor DWI offenses. None of these DWI penalties take into consideration the collateral consequences, such as loss of license and license plate impoundment.

3rd Degree DWI (gross misdemeanor):

When 3rd Degree DWI is a ** second offense** (i.e., not a first offense that is enhanced based on a test result over .20, a refusal, or a child under 16 in the car), mandatory minimum penalties under Minnesota Statute § 169A.275 apply. A second offense carries a mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail. In some counties, the Judge will agree to waive this mandatory minimum, or convert the time to community service or electronic home monitoring.

For a Twin Cities DWI in the metro area, the 30 days can usually be converted to electronic home monitoring or community service. Some counties will allow the offender to convert all 30 days to home monitoring or community service. Others, like Anoka County, will only allow an offender to convert some jail time to community service. Anoka county will typically still require 10-20 days of jail time for a second offense. Some counties will permit the offender to serve the sentence on the weekend. Other counties willnot.

Outstate counties are more likely to require 30 days of actual jail for a second offense. Again, for example Redwood County requires 30 days of jail (No EHM allowed) for a second offense. Counties in Northern Minnesota tend to be more reasonable about allowing DWI offenders to serve their time on electronic home monitoring or as community service.

2nd Degree DWI (gross misdemeanor):

2nd Degree DWI generally carries a mandatory minimum of 90 days. This is not true in all cases, but for the purposes of this post, we will assume that the offender qualifies for the mandatory minimum sentence.

The 90 day mandatory minimum is not as flexible as the 30 day mandatory minimum penalty for a 3rd degree DWI. The 90 day mandatory minimum requires at least 30 days of jail time. The remaining 60 days can be served as electronic home monitoring. However, it is up to the Court as to whether the offender may serve only 30 of the 90 days in jail. The Court can require offenders to serve all 90 days in jail. And, in most cases, this is what happens – the offender must serve all 90 days.

Certain counties will permit the offender to serve less time. Hennepin County will allow the offender to do 30 days in jail and, occasionally, serve the time on the weekend. Dakota County has a “Safe Streets" program that allows the offender to serve only 6 days of actual jail, provide the offender agrees to intensive supervision that is above and beyond the normal supervised probation. Carver County is also beginning safe streets. Cottonwood County DWI offenders are occasionally permitted to serve only 30 days of jail, and to do so on the weekends. Martin County DWI sentences also allow weekend time.

1st Degree DWI (Felony):

If an driver is charged with ** Minnesota Felony DWI,** and it is their first felony DWI, they are subject to mandatory minimums that do NOT include a prison sentence. Put another way, the first time felony DWI offender does not necessarily have to go to prison. However, the offender will be subjected to certain mandatory minimums in lieu of an executed prison sentence.

For a fourth lifetime offense ( i.e., first time felony DWI), the offender MUST serve a mandatory minimum of 180 days. 30 days must be served in jail. The Court may allow the offender to serve the remaining balance of 150 days as electronic home monitoring. The Court doesnot have to allow the offender to serve any of the 180 days as electronic home monitoring.

For a fifth lifetime DWI offense, if the offender is not sent to prison, then the mandatory minimum sentence is one year in jail. The individual must serve at least 60 days in jail. The Court may allow the offender to serve the remaining balance of 305 days as electronic home monitoring, but the Court is not required to allow this. The offender may also be eligible for the “Safe Streets" program, as described above.

If you or someone you know needs help with a DWI, you need to call a skilled attorney right away. An ** experienced DWI attorney ** like can sometimes even get a driver sentenced BELOW the mandatory minimum, using special loopholes unknown to most defense attorneys, so call for help NOW to preserve your freedom and your job.

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