Man taking a sobriety test in front of cop

What Constitutes a Felony DWI?

Drinking while intoxicated is a serious offense. Although most DWIs in Minnesota are labeled as misdemeanors, they can also be felonies under certain circumstances. This blog will highlight the definition of a felony DWI and what to do if you’re facing charges.

What is a DWI?

DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated.” To be charged with a DWI, you must have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or over. According to Minnesota law, it is a crime to refuse a breathalyzer test if pulled over. This is considered a test refusal crime and can be treated as a DWI conviction.

It’s easy to get DWIs mixed up with DUIs as they sound the same. However, a DUI does not require the driver to have a specific blood alcohol level in their system. Police usually look for changes in speed, weaving, or driving the wrong way when making a DUI arrest. But, proving a DWI is more straightforward as your BAC is sufficient evidence.

What makes a DWI a felony?

For the most part, DWIs are misdemeanors that usually result in a suspension of your driver's license and additional fines. However, many factors can turn a DWI misdemeanor into a felony. Here are a few situations in which this could happen:

  • You’ve been convicted of a DWI three times within the past ten years.
  • You already have a felony conviction.
  • You already have a vehicular homicide or vehicular injury conviction that involved alcohol or drugs.

What will a DWI cost you?

The costs of a DWI range from the severity of your offense and how many you have on your record. You will be subject to criminal fines, chemical dependence surcharges, treatment costs, and even bail if needed. With additional impound charges, license reinstatement fees, and insurance premiums, your DWI could cost up to $10,000 or more.

Criminal Penalties

Outside of paying for your fines, you can also expect to spend time in jail with a felony DWI conviction. Depending on your case, you may spend 36 months to seven years in prison. This does not include house arrest or probation. A defendant with a prison sentence for a DWI must complete a chemical dependency treatment program while incarcerated before being eligible for early release.

The cost of a DWI can be tremendous if you end up convicted. The best practice to avoid fines is to avoid getting a conviction altogether. However, speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney can potentially minimize your financial burden with the correct guidance. If you’ve obtained a DWI in the state of Minnesota, we suggest that you reach out to the Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A. team today.

How long will a DWU stay on my record?

Under special conditions, a person can have a misdemeanor DWI expunged. This means the public cannot see the record, but it’s still accessible to the courts. The expungement process takes about 4-6 months, which includes filing the paperwork and a court hearing. It’s essential to keep in mind that Minnesota shares DWI records with other states, so if you move, your DWI will follow you.

I’ve been convicted of a felony. What’s next?

The legalities of DWIs can be complex for some. If you’ve recently been arrested for either a misdemeanor or a felony DWI, our Minnesota attorneys can help. We can weigh out your options and best strategies to help decide what the best course of action may be for your case.

Contact our legal firm today at (612) 444-5020 or fill out this form on our website for a free consultation.

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