In Minnesota, DWI refers to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. In order for DWI to be dismissed, or otherwise disposed of with favorable results, a competent criminal defense lawyer is critical. The consequences of a DWI conviction in Minnesota can be severe and may include the following:
- Criminal Penalties: The specific penalties for DWI offenses vary depending on factors such as the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC), other drugs found to be present in the body within a period of time from the driving conduct, prior DWI convictions, and any aggravating factors present. Penalties can include fines, probation, mandatory alcohol education or treatment programs, community service, and even incarceration. Repeat offenses or those involving aggravating factors, like a prior DWI or multiple DWIs, the presence of a minor in the car, an accident associated with the alleged drunk driving, can result in more severe penalties. Your criminal defense lawyer will know this in detail.
- Driver’s License Revocation: Upon a DWI arrest and failed test for drugs or alcohol, the driver’s license may be subject to immediate administrative revocation. The length of the revocation period depends on various factors, including the driver’s BAC, prior DWI convictions, and whether or not the driver refused chemical testing. A first-time DWI offense typically results in a 90-day license revocation, but it can be longer for subsequent offenses or refusal to test.
- Criminal Record: A DWI conviction in Minnesota results in a criminal record, and statutes currently restrict expungement in most cases. This can have long-lasting consequences. Besides incarceration and fines, a criminal record can affect employment prospects, housing opportunities, educational pursuits, professional licenses, insurance costs, and other aspects of a person’s life. Be sure to tell your criminal defense attorney what you do for a living and whether you have a commercial driver’s license.
- Increased Insurance Rates: DWI convictions typically lead to significantly higher insurance premiums, as insurance companies view convicted drunk drivers as high-risk individuals. The increased rates can persist for several years after the conviction. The increase in insurance premiums resulting from just being charged with DWI can range from $50 to hundreds of dollars per month. Be sure to tell your criminal defense lawyer if there have been any other increases to your insurance premiums for other reasons.
- Ignition Interlock OR Limited License (IILL): In some cases, individuals whose licenses are revoked may be eligible for an Ignition Interlock OR limited license, also known as a restricted license. A restricted license without interlock is typically applicable where the defendant has no prior DWIs, and has blown or otherwise tested for alcohol below a .16. This license allows individuals to drive under specific circumstances, such as commuting to work, attending treatment programs, or meeting other essential needs. If it higher than that, or this a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th DWI, the driver will be required to have an ignition interlock. This is a restricted license, and the restriction is that any vehicle driven by a defendant must have an ignition interlock device installed. In order to start the car, the drive must blow zero. Obtaining an IILL requires meeting certain criteria and installing an ignition interlock device in the vehicle. For simply a limited license without ignition interlock, it is best to visit the DMV. If you require an ignition interlock, there are a number of vendors that provide installation and handle all the paperwork. A competent DWI attorney can refer you to these resources.
- Impact on Professional Licenses: Certain professions, such as healthcare providers, teachers, and commercial drivers, have specific requirements regarding criminal convictions. A DWI conviction can potentially jeopardize professional licenses and certifications, leading to disciplinary actions or even loss of employment.
It’s important to note that the consequences mentioned here are general guidelines, and the actual penalties and outcomes of a DWI case can vary depending on the specific circumstances, local laws, and the discretion of the court. If you or someone you know is facing a DWI charge, it’s advisable to consult with a qualified attorney who specializes in DWI defense to understand the individual situation better and explore available legal options. Alex DeMarco is such a lawyer, and can be reached at 651-705-8829, or firstname.lastname@example.org