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MN Felony DWI

Minnesota Felony DWI


In Minnesota, First Degree DWI and First Degree Test Refusal are felony offenses punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $14,000 fine.  The minimum fine is supposed to be $4,200 plus a surcharge of approximately $80.  However, in practice, judges often impose an executed fine far less than $4,200. 


First Degree DWI and Test Refusal are defined as a DWI/test refusal incident occurring within 10 years of three prior DWI convictions or DWI license revocations, or occurring where a defendant has a prior felony conviction for DWI or criminal vehicular operation (involving impairment).


Thus, felony DWI only arises if a defendant commits a fourth DWI incident within a 10-year period or commits a DWI after previously being convicted of felony DWI or felony criminal vehicular operation (involving impairment). 


Under Minnesota sentencing guidelines, most first-time felony DWI offenders will receive a stayed prison sentence of at least 36 months, and will be placed on probation for up to 7 years and have to serve a six-month sentence in a local jail or on house arrest as an intermediate sanction pursuant to mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Of the 180 days, the mandatory minimum sentence is 30 days to serve in jail and 150 days to serve on house arrest (electronic home monitoring). If a judge will not authorize house arrest, a defendant will serve the 180-day sentence in jail.  With good time, a 180-day jail sentence would be 120 actual days in jail.  


If a defendant has a prior felony conviction for DWI or criminal vehicular operation, then the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines call for a presumptive prison commitment for any subsequent felony DWI offense. The presumptive prison sentence is at least 36 months under the guidelines. 


Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, a defendant arrested for suspected felony DWI/test refusal faces bail and mandatory conditions of release such as continuous alcohol monitoring via a SCRAM ankle bracelet or an Alcosensor breath machine that a defendant has to blow into three times per day.   


Charges of felony DWI/test refusal trigger potential vehicle forfeiture. That is to say, the arresting police agency has authority to forfeit a defendant's vehicle -- even if the vehicle isn't owned by the defendant. 

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