A 4th Degree DWI is the lowest degree of DWI in Minnesota, and it is the baseline for a first-time offense (except in a refusal to test case whose minimum degree is a 3rd Degree DWI). In Minnesota, there are three aggravating factors that can increase the severity of a DWI:
- Having a prior DWI conviction or DWI-related loss of license within 10 years;
- Having an alcohol concentration of .16 or higher;
- Having a child under the age of 16 in the car (if they are more than 36 months younger than the driver).
Minn. Stat. 169A.03, subd. 3.See here for a copy of the statute.
In addition, any felony-level DWI conviction or substance-related criminal vehicular homicide or injury convictions ratchet up a DWI to a felony. Minn. Stat. 169A.24, Subd. 1 (2)-(3). See here for a copy of the statute.
If none of these apply to you, then you will be likely charged with a 4th Degree DWI (or a 3rd Degree if you are charged with refusing to test).
No Mandatory Minimum Sentences
A 4th Degree DWI is a misdemeanor offense that does not carry any mandatory minimum sentencing in Minnesota. The greatest penalty you face criminally is up to 90 days in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. A minimum fine of $300 is generally required. Probation is a possibility.
No Mandatory Bail or Release Conditions
A 4th Degree DWI will not carry any mandatory bail or release. If you are released from jail the night of arrest, and properly show up to court (or waive appearance through your attorney), you could possibly stay out of jail without having to pay bail.
A first time DWI/DUI offender faces a drivers' license revocation of 90 days. If convicted of the underlying DWI, you face 30 days of license revocation. The 90 day revocation is a civil action, however, and must be challenged separately from and in addition to the criminal charges. Furthermore, the civil license loss of 90 days qualifies as a prior DWI-loss of license.
In other words, even if you are found not-guilty of the criminal DWI, or you plead it down to a non-DWI offense, if you do not challenge the civil license revocation (and win), any subsequent DWIs in 10 years will be enhanced.