What Are the Consequences of a Felony DWI?

In Minnesota, the consequences of a felony DWI begin when someone is charged with that offense. However, that person doesn’t receive criminal penalties as a consequence unless there’s a conviction. The following is a brief overview of what felony DWI is and the difference between the administrative sanctions for being charged and the criminal penalties that come with a conviction.

What Is a Felony DWI?

DWI stands for driving while impaired. Under Minnesota law, an impaired driver is anyone who controls a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances, or an intoxicating substance.

First degree DWI is a felony. Someone could be charged with first degree DWI under any of the following circumstances.

  • It is that person’s fourth DWI in ten years.
  • The person has a prior felony DWI conviction.
  • This individual has been convicted of criminal operation of a vehicle.

Consequences of Being Charged With Felony DWI

The administrative sanctions that come with felony DWI begin at the time of the arrest. The law requires that a person arrested for felony DWI be kept in custody until the first appearance in court. During that appearance, the court typically sets the bail amount.

Other administrative sanctions are in place to provide immediate consequences for a felony DWI arrest. The driver’s license of the accused could be suspended four to six years. Under certain circumstances, the authorities can seize the vehicle used during the alleged offense, which is known as forfeiture.

Taking away the vehicle’s license plates, also known as license plate impoundment, is a common administrative sanction with DWI. The state of Minnesota is not limited to impounding the plates of the vehicle involved in the offense. The authorities can take away the license plates of any vehicles registered in the name of the accused even if the vehicle has a co-owner.

During the pre-trial period, at least weekly meetings with a probation officer are required. Random checks using urinalysis or breath alcohol testing are part of those meetings. In the event of a conviction, the accused must reimburse the court for these services.

Consequences of a Felony DWI Conviction

A person convicted of felony DWI in Minnesota faces severe criminal penalties. The law makes it possible to receive imprisonment, a fine, or both. The fine for a felony DWI conviction can be as high as $14,000.

Felony DWI carries a minimum sentence of three years of imprisonment. The maximum sentence is seven years. However, the court has the flexibility to stay the execution of the sentence.

A stay of execution is the way the court puts a halt on a sentence. The convicted person is not sent immediately to serve the sentence. With felony DWI, a stay of execution is conditional. When someone does not honor the conditions, the court can order that person must serve the prison sentence which had been stayed.

When the court stays a felony DWI sentence, Minnesota law requires the court to impose the penalties for non-felony DWI. For a fourth DWI offense in ten years, the minimum sentence is 180 days in jail. One year in jail is the minimum sentence for a fifth DWI conviction in ten years.

After serving the prison sentence, the convicted person is subject to a five-year conditional release. Someone who violates the conditions of the release can be returned to prison.

Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one have been charged with felony DWI in Minnesota, we’re available to provide legal services at this critical time. Despite the stated minimum sentences, we know strategies to negotiate on your behalf to get a proper outcome for you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact attorney Kirk Anderson for an initial consultation.