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What Are the Penalties for a First DWI in Minnesota?

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a criminal offense that puts a lot on the line. From short-term setbacks to long-term repercussions, there are a number of penalties and adverse consequences defendants face. In some cases, depending on the charge involved, those penalties can have a life-altering impact.

If you or someone you love has been charged with DWI, knowing what’s on the line is critical to helping you understand the importance of working with proven defense attorneys like those at Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A. Over the years, our legal team has successfully defended clients charged with DWIs involving all types of various circumstances, including cases involving some of the most serious charges our criminal justice system has to offer. When you stand accused, there’s simply no substitute to working with a tried and true team of lawyers.

Understanding the Penalties

First-Time DUI Charges

DWI is a criminal offense that can result in penalties being handed down by both the criminal court and administrative penalties from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. There are also varying degrees of DWI:

  • Fourth-degree misdemeanor – Typically charged against first-time DWI offenders with no aggravating factors involved in the case.
  • Third-degree misdemeanor – May be charged against a first-time offender if there is an aggravating factor present in the case, or when a breathalyzer or chemical test is refused.
  • Second-degree gross misdemeanor – May be charges against first-time offenders when there are two aggravating circumstances involved and/or when a chemical test is refused.
  • First-degree felony – As the most serious charge, felony DWIs are typically prosecuted against drivers with three or more prior DWI violations. When there are no priors, a first-time offender may be charged with a felony if they cause an accident that results in injury or death.

Generally, first time DWI offenders face the following range of penalties:

  • Driver’s license revocation
  • License or vehicle impoundment
  • Up to 90 days imprisonment (misdemeanor)
  • Up to 1 year in jail (gross misdemeanor)
  • Up to $3,000 in fines
  • Probation
  • Community Service
  • Court-ordered classes

In addition to these penalties, there are also a host of associated consequences, including those involving employment, financial expenses, and difficulties caused by an inability to drive. In a previous blog, we discussed the costs associated of a Minnesota DWI conviction, including the hefty fines and fees.

Elevated Penalties

Criminal penalties for DWI, as with any criminal charge, will vary drastically on the individual facts and circumstances involved. While prior convictions are a well-known factor for elevated penalties in DWI cases, there are also other factors that can expose defendants to additional penalties, more severe sentences, additional charges, and even felony allegations. Some of these common factors include:

  • Driving with a minor passenger
  • Being involved in an accident
  • Hit and run
  • Accidents resulting in injury or death
  • Driving with an open container
  • High BAC levels
  • Driving on a suspended license
  • Refusing a breathalyzer test or blood test

Even if you are arrested and charged with DWI as a first offense, the resulting penalties can vary drastically depending on what was involved in your arrest. While some factors may expose defendants to a moderate increase in penalties, such as driving with an open container or having a higher BAC, others may result in felony allegations and the potential for multi-year prison sentences. This is especially true in cases involving accidents, hit and runs, injuries, and deaths. Because every case is different, however, it is best to work with an attorney who can help you understand how aggravating circumstances play a role in your case.

After a DWI charge, the time to act is now! Our Minneapolis DWI attorneys at Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A. are standing by to help. Contact us for a FREE consultation 24/7.


What Our Clients Are Saying

  • “ Today I had a court appearance where your attorney, LIS CARLSON represented me. I must start at the beginning, MS. CARLSON returned my phone call to her with in an hour of my first call to your office. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the quick response to my call & most important how LIS immediately made me feel, she was professional, caring, her ability to immediately know that I was a total mess. Before she finished with my call she made sure that I was alright, her compassion for me was extremely needed. I immediately felt there couldn’t be a better attorney in the state better than LIS! Throughout this entire process, Lis was a pillar of strength. I was amazed at how she handled everything with extreme care & some very excellent, professional legal skills. I count my blessings but I count them twice when I came to LIS. The world needs more people like LIS, smart, intelligent, kind and caring.” - P.G.
  • “How do I ever thank you enough for your amazingly great strategy that got my case dismissed! ” - J. E.
  • “ Kayla Wengronowitz was my attorney in a claim against me involving Title IX and won my difficult and extensive case. She was a beacon of hope to me when my options seemed very limited. Kayla provided clarity for me to understand everything happening in the case, she made smart and calculated decisions, she made sure I was comfortable with every decision she made, and she responded to difficult situations seemingly with ease. Most importantly, Kayla was empathetic and provided comfort throughout the strenuous process. I am extremely grateful for her service and highly recommend her without reservation.” - Anonymous
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  • “ I just wanted to thank you so much! I am so pleased with all the hard work you put in. I would have never had the chance to get the outcome I did without you. You did an amazing job and we are feeling very greatful to have made the right call when we chose you.” - P.K.
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