a man getting arrested

What Are Minnesota’s Penalties for a DWI?

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a crime that may be charged as a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony in Minnesota. The penalties for a DWI will vary depending on how the offense is charged. However, no matter how a DWI is charged, there is no doubt that it can have serious negative consequences on your future.

Learn the various penalties for a DWI in Minnesota and how to defend your rights if you have been charged with one.

Misdemeanor vs. Gross Misdemeanor vs. Felony DWI

Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or greater is illegal in all 50 states. However, your level of intoxication may determine whether you are charged with a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony DWI.

Misdemeanor DWI

Drivers with BAC levels between 0.08% and 0.16% will be charged with a misdemeanor. Additionally, first-time DWI offenses will often be charged as misdemeanors. The penalties for a misdemeanor DWI may include:

  • Maximum 90-day jail sentence
  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • 90 days of no-driving privileges
  • License restrictions

Gross Misdemeanor DWI

Drivers with BAC levels of 0.16% or more will be charged with a gross misdemeanor. Additionally, drivers who cause bodily harm to another while intoxicated or who have children in the vehicle may be charged with a gross misdemeanor. The penalties for a gross misdemeanor DWI may include:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • Up to $3,000 in fines
  • One year of no-driving privileges
  • Ignition interlock device
  • License plates impounded and/or vehicle forfeited

Felony DWI

A DWI may be charged as a felony if one of the following criteria is met:

  • The driver received three or more DWI convictions in the past 10 years.
  • The driver has previously been convicted of a felony DWI.
  • The driver’s impairment caused serious injury or death to another person or unborn child.

The penalties for a felony DWI are severe, and may include:

  • Up to seven years in jail
  • Up to $14,000 in fines
  • License cancelled as “inimical to public safety”
  • License plates impounded and vehicle forfeited

Commercial Driver DWI

The legal limit for BAC for commercial drivers is stricter than it is for other motorists (0.04% as opposed to 0.08%). As such, a commercial driver DWI may be prosecuted differently. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, drivers with class A, B, or C commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) and/or who operate commercial motor vehicles are subject to disqualification of commercial driving privileges.

Additionally, commercial drivers may have their CDL disqualified for one year if they refuse to be tested for alcohol or drugs or are convicted of a DWI while operating any type of motor vehicle. If the commercial driver was transporting hazardous materials at the time of arrest, their CDL may be suspended for three years instead of one.

Charged with a DWI? We Can Defend Your Rights

A DWI can negatively impact your life and future. If you have been charged with a DWI, no matter the severity, our Minneapolis defense attorneys are here to help. Our team is backed by over a century of experience in defense, and we know the strategies to pursue to protect your future.

Call Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A. at (612) 444-5020 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.


Why Choose Us?

  • We’ll start your case with a FREE, no-obligation consultation
  • Attorney Joseph Tamburino is a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist, achieved by only 3% of Attorneys
  • We have represented thousands of clients and we have handled hundreds of jury trials
  • Our attorneys have worked as prosecutors and public defenders throughout the state
  • Our team is available 24/7 – when our clients need us, we’re there for them

Book a Free Consultation 

We are available to speak with you 24/7. Don't hesitate to call us at (612) 444-5020 or fill out the form below. 
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.