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DWI charges in Minnesota carry hefty penalties

When people drive drunk, they place others on the road at risk. In order to reduce the number of intoxicated or impaired drivers on the road, Minnesota has enacted laws prohibiting impaired driving. Driving while impaired (DWI) is a criminal offense. Depending on the circumstances, a DWI offense could result in a misdemeanor or felony charge. The state of Minnesota looks at several factors, including your blood alcohol content (BAC), the number of previous offenses on your record and whether there were any special circumstances, like children in the vehicle.

The state of Minnesota could bring additional charges or increase penalties against a driver if the BAC measured comes in at 0.16 percent or higher, the accused was transporting minors or has a criminal record of other alcohol-related offenses. Penalties can become quite onerous and could result in the loss of the accused's freedom and livelihood. Many employers choose to include clauses about criminal charges or convictions in work contracts, meaning that getting charged may also mean getting fired. Of course, the criminal penalties for a DWI are more concerning than the social fallout from the charges.

DWI charges bring administrative and criminal penalties

Minnesota's DWI law authorizes immediate administrative penalties for those accused of a DWI offense. The most common is revocation of the accused's driver 's license. In some cases, the state could impound license plates or even seize the vehicle involved under a forfeiture law.

Criminal penalties will also vary, depending on certain factors. A first offense is a fourth degree misdemeanor, barring any aggravating circumstances. That means a first offense results in the loss of your driver's license, a fine of up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail.

A second offense within 10 years will typically be a gross misdemeanor, which carries loss of your license for up to a year, at least 30 days and up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $3,000. A third offense means you lose driving privileges for at least three years and possibly your vehicle. Also, you'll be in jail for between 90 days and a year.

If you get charged with four DWI offenses in a ten year period, you'll face felony charges. A felony DWI means you lose your license for between four and six years. You'll have to surrender the license plates for all your registered vehicles and the state may seize the vehicle you were driving at the time of your arrest. You will generally get sentenced to between three and seven years in a state prison and will have to pay as much as $14,000 in fines. As you can see, the more previous DWI charges you've faced, the more serious the potential penalties become.

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