In Minnesota, a DWI is classifed as an enhanceable offense.  Enchanceable means is that each time you are convicted for a DWI the penalties get more serious. In fact, Minnesota law mandates jail penalties and actual confinement depending on the number of prior DWI convictions or alcohol related loss of driver’s license and the timing of each offense.[1]

First time offense: there is no mandatory jail time if it is first time offense.  A court will usually order a sentence, but often will stay the sentence (pause) the in custody portion if a person completing probation and programming.   This will depend on the severity of the DWI and whether certain aggravating factors were present, such as a child in the vehicle at the time of the offense.

A second offense within 10 years of a qualified prior means a 30-day jail sentence is mandated. Of the 30 days of jail, 48 hours must be served consecutively in jail custody. The remaining 28 days can be served on electronic home monitoring.   

A third offense within 10 years of the first of 2 qualified priors under Minnesota statute means a 90-day sentence. Of the 90 days jail, 30 days must be served consecutively in custody.

Fourth or more offense within 10 years of the first of 3 qualified priors: prison or a 180-day jail sentence, a minimum of 30 days consecutive in jail custody.

Fifth or more offense within 10 years of the first of 4 qualified priors: minimum of one year of incarceration, a least 60 days of which must be served consecutively in jail custody.

The question always becomes how is it possible to avoid time in custody or at least reducen the amount  of time in custody.   While the statute sets mandatory minimums, there are also provisions of the law allowing the court to depart from a jail sentence.

One way to avoid mandatory minimums is to participate in the ignition interlock program. If you are ordered to drive a vehicle with ignition interlock for the pendency of probation, the court may order a sentence notwithstanding the mandatory minimums.[2]

Another possibility is to participate in a program of intensive supervision/intensive probation for repeat DWI offenders. Participation in an intensive program is highly monitored and requires a high degree of dedication from the participant. Should the Court order such a program, 6 days must be served consecutively in jail custody. [3]

Finally, a staggered sentence may be a possibility. If a staggered sentence is imposed, a period of jail time is set each year for the period of probation. You must serve the first period in jail. However, prior to the next year’s jail sentence, you may bring a motion for the Court to forgive the jail time if you are able to prove participation in a structed sobriety group such as AA. [4]

DWIs are complicated offenses with real consequences that linger for years.   Eva Rodelius and Eva Wailes are happy to visit with you during a free initial consultation to review your case and your possible options.   Call 612-436-7100 at anytime to schedule.

[1] Minn. Stat. 169A.275 
[2] Minn. Stat. 169A.275 subd. 7
[3] Minn. Stat. 169A.275 Subd 2
[4] Minn. Stat. 169A.275 Subd 6