• DWI Criminal Consequences


    When a non-citizen is arrested for DWI in Minnesota, the consequences could be potentially life-altering. It is very important for immigrants to not engage in criminal activities of any kind or removal from the U.S. could be the consequence.

    If you are a non-citizen and you have been charged with DWI or you are the friend or family member of someone who has been charged with DWI, you need an experienced St. Paul DWI lawyer to help you with the matter.


    Every time an individual is arrested for DWI, the penalties become even tougher. The time in jail is longer, the fines are higher, and all penalties are all around more difficult to deal with. There are some individuals that lose their license permanently and others have to deal with a felony on their record. The only way to battle these penalties is through a St. Paul DWI attorney.


    Minnesota’s penalty system is based upon the number of arrests a person has had, especially within the past 10 years. For example, a first time offender may be convicted of a misdemeanor as long as no aggravating factors were present. Aggravating factors include a minor child being in the vehicle, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .20 or above, or multiple DWI arrests within the past 10 years.

    A second offense becomes a gross misdemeanor and this will result in jail time, fines, driver’s license loss, and a variety of other consequences. A third offense is also a gross misdemeanor and a fourth offense is classified as a felony.

    Overall, how a repeat offense is prosecuted depends upon how the prosecutor decides to charge the crime. When multiple offenses are involved, the prosecutor will work toward ensuring the toughest sentence is handed down. How this is done is by classifying the charge as a First, Second, Third, or Fourth Degree DWI with First-Degree being classified as a felony, thus the most severe.

    Even if a person is not guilty of a repeat offense, he or she can still be subject to a charge of First-Degree DWI because of any aggravating factors that may be present. First-degree can also be charged if there is another crime that has been committed at the same time, such as drugs in the vehicle at the time of arrest. If an accident occurred, even more severe consequences will result.


    The penalties will vary based upon the fact that they increase in severity with the number of arrests. For example, a second conviction results in a fine of up to $3,000 and 30 days in jail, license plate and/or license revocation, and a number of other penalties if there are any additional factors present at the time of arrest. A third offense is 90 days in jail, at least $3,000 in fines, vehicle impoundment, license revocation, and any other penalties that the judge deems necessary.

    The fourth offense, which is the First-Degree DWI, is the most severe with 3 years in jail and at least $14,000 in fines. The convicted individual loses their license, which means no driving privileges at all. The vehicle is also impounded and the judge may hand down additional penalties. Only through the help of a St. Paul DWI lawyer can you work toward having the charges reduced or dismissed in order to reach a better outcome in the case.


    Most everyone who is arrested for DWI is fingerprinted. These fingerprints are then entered into a national database that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can access. The Department of Homeland Security can also access this information. Failure to disclose arrests and convictions to U.S. Citizenship and immigration Services can be regarded as fraud and lead to inadmissibility of a person or removal from the country. Non-citizens must be honest about disclosing prior arrests and convictions because of this.

    Nonetheless, non-citizens do have a right to effective counsel before they do something such as plead guilty. Even when pleading guilty, it is possible to be removed from the U.S. as a result of the guilty plea. The court is based on the Sixth Amendment right of a non-citizen’s right to effective assistance of an attorney in their criminal case.

    Nonetheless, a non-citizen who pleads guilty without the help of an attorney may be able to withdraw their guilty plea in either state or federal court and stand trial on the initial charges. It is very important that all individuals are properly advised, including non-citizens.


    Permanent residents who hold a green card should still be concerned if they are charged with a DWI. Although a DWI is not considered a crime of moral turpitude, a permanent resident who leaves the country and then tries to get back in could be denied re-entry into the United States. If the DWI involved a controlled substance, the individual may have additional problems trying to get back into the United States. If there are multiple convictions for crimes that do not involve moral turpitude, the individual may not be able to get back into the United States if there was an imposed or stayed sentence of 5 years or more.

    Any permanent resident, legal immigrant, or even temporary residents should seek the help of a Minnesota DWI attorney when faced with DWI charges. Those charges could lead to a conviction that could result in more than the criminal consequences.


    There are a number of jurisdictions where a person who is convicted of a DUI or DWI offense can serve an alternative sentence to jail. While there are times that the judge has no choice but to sentence a person to some jail time, especially when the offense is their second offense, there are times that it is possible for a skilled St. Paul DWI lawyer to convince the judge to minimize jail time or impose an alternative to going to jail. There are some situations where this may work.


    The alternatives to jail include:

    Work release

    City jail

    Work furlough

    Electronic monitoring

    Alcohol rehab or drug rehab

    Sober house

    When a person is sentenced to work release, the participant is able to work at a predetermined site during the day. The probation department typically designates this area. The participant is then allowed to go to their home at night to sleep, but they typically aren’t allowed to go anywhere else.

    If given work furlough, the participant keeps their own job and they go to work every day like they are supposed to. At night, however, the participant must return to a facility that is like a dorm at the jail.

    If the city jail is the chosen option, then the defendant convicted of DWI may spend the night at the police station to then be released the next day.

    Electronic monitoring involves the participant wearing an ankle bracelet that electronically monitors their movements at all times. This is frequently referred to as “house arrest” because the participant can only go to school or work and that is it.

    Alcohol or drug rehab is for those who may be believed to have an addiction, so they are entered into a residential or outpatient treatment program. An experienced St. Paul criminal defense attorney can usually recognize when their client needs to be entered into such a program.

    If sober living is the choice, it is usually due to the participant having a long-term alcohol or drug problem. The participant will live in a residence where everyone staying there is sober. Attendance at a 12-step program is required as well.


    The goal of your attorney is to obtain the best result for you. When conviction is imminent, that is sometimes done by ensuring you do not have to spend time in prison or jail. That way you are able to move on with your life much sooner than you would otherwise.



    DWI court is rather complicated in that there are many things that can happen from the time a person is arrested to the time that they are sentenced and beyond.

    If you are convicted of a DWI, the court may impose what is called “penalty assessment” in addition to a fine or jail time. This is defined under Minnesota Statute 169A.285. It says that when a court sentences a person who is in violation of section 169A.20 (DWI) while having a blood alcohol concentration of .20 or above that is measured within two hours of the time of the violation, the court may impose a $1,000 penalty assessment.

    If you have been charged with DWI, avoiding the DWI penalty assessment is done by fighting the DWI charge. There are many individuals who fail to fight the charges because they may have had a couple of drinks and they feel that they are guilty. However, breath tests and testing in general can be faulty or unlawful in a number of ways. There are many factors that can lead to a reduction in the charges or dismissal. A person doesn’t know until they fight.


    When a person pays the $1,000 penalty assessment, the generated funds are distributed to the police department responsible for the arrest. The purpose of the funds is to be used in the training, enforcement, and education of officers in relation to DWI. If the arresting agency is a state agency, such as a State Patrol Officer, the funds can be deposited into the state treasury so they can be credited to the general fund.

    Prosecutors are quite aware of where the funds go, so they work very hard to try and have the court enforce a very high penalty assessment per case.


    Your Minneapolis DWI lawyer will fight the prosecution in regards to the amount of the penalty assessment. The reason why it is important to fight is so you can reduce the amount of dollars you have to pay to the state. A DWI charge results in enough money coming out of your wallet. In fact, a DWI can be quite damaging financially, so your attorney works to minimize that damage as much as possible so you are not forced to go bankrupt or end up being sued by creditors because you can’t pay your bills. Your attorney recognizes that it is imperative the fees stay as low as possible so the financial damage is minimized as much as it can be.



    Minnesota law states that a person who is convicted of a third DWI within a 10 year period must submit to long-term DWI monitoring if there is a suspended jail sentence or probation.

    A suspended jail sentence is jail time that has been stayed in exchange for probation. The person has to adhere to the terms of that probation or they will have to go to jail and fulfill their original sentence.

    As it stands, nearly every Minnesota DWI sentence has at least some of the jail time suspended in exchange for a probationary term that lasts as long as the prison or jail sentence would have. If the sentence is long-term monitoring, then you are required to participate by being monitored with an electronic alcohol monitor for a period up to five years.


    If you are sentenced to long-term monitoring, you will have to be monitored for at least 30 days during each year of probation. For example, probation of five years requires you to have an electronic alcohol monitor each year for those five years. While the monitoring period can be at least 30 days, it can be as long as the court deems necessary.

    The long-term monitoring is a requirement that is put in place in addition to any time spent in jail or fines that are imposed by the court as a part of the sentence for the DWI offense. If you have been charged with DWI, you will want to have an experienced St. Paul DWI lawyer working with you so that you can receive a fair sentence or even have the charges dismissed.


    The long-term DWI monitoring is available in a variety of ways, depending on the county in which the conviction takes place and the county’s resources. The first method is a monitoring system that requires a person to blow into a machine at three different points during the day. The test must be performed at the predetermined times.

    The second method is the SCRAM bracelet, which is an electronic monitoring bracelet that vibrates on and off throughout the day while it measures a person’s blood alcohol concentration. The SCRAM bracelet must be brought in to the probation department once a week so that the results can be downloaded.

    The third method is random urine tests and meetings with the probation officer periodically during the probationary period.

    To avoid such hardships, it is best to fight the charges with the help of a Minneapolis DWI attorney. It is possible to have the charges reduced for a reduced sentence, to prove you’re innocent, or to have the charges dismissed because of something that went wrong during the arrest process or any point after.