Criminal Penalties Under Minnesota's DWI Laws

Criminal penalties upon conviction for DWI are tiered, as follows:

  • Fourth-Degree DWI – misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days of jail and a $1,000 fine (for the person’s first impaired driving violation within ten years without test refusal or any aggravating factors)
  • Third-Degree DWI – a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year of jail and a $3,000 fine (for the person’s second impaired driving violation within ten years or first such violation with test refusal or another aggravating factor)
  • Second-Degree DWI – also a gross misdemeanor (for the person’s third impaired driving violation within ten years or second such violation with test refusal or one other aggravating factor, or first such violation with two aggravating factors)
  • First-Degree DWI – felony, punishable by up to seven years’ imprisonment and a $14,000 fine (for the person’s fourth impaired driving violation within ten years or anytime following a previous felony DWI or criminal vehicular operation conviction; other aggravating factors are not considered)

Aggravating Factors Under Minnesota’s DWI Laws

This includes:

  • a qualified prior impaired driving incident within the preceding ten years;
  • an alcohol concentration of .20 or more upon arrest (but not for first-degree DWI); and
  • the presence of a child under age 16 in the vehicle, if more than 36 months younger than the offender (but not for first-degree DWI).

Qualified Prior Impaired Driving Incident

This includes both:

  • prior impaired driving convictions; and
  • prior impaired driving-related losses of license (implied consent revocations) or operating privileges

for separate driving incidents within the preceding ten years involving any kind of motor vehicle, including passenger motor vehicle, school bus or Head Start bus, commercial motor vehicle, airplane, snowmobile, all terrain vehicle, off-road recreational vehicle, or motorboat in operation.


CREDIT: The content of this post has been copied or adopted from An Overview of Minnesota’s DWI Laws, originally published by the Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department and written by legislative analysts Jim Cleary and Rebecca Pirius.

This is also part of a series of posts on Minnesota’s DWI Laws.