• Felony DWI


    In Minnesota, a first degree DWI is a felony offense and it is one that can result in incarceration of more than one year, as well as fines and other consequences.

    There are also factors that can aggravate a DWI to the point that it becomes a first degree DWI if the current offense. Two of those factors are: the current offense is within ten years of a prior impaired driving incident or an individual has been convicted of a felony DWI in the past. Even if it is a first offense or second offense, having one of these factors present or having a blood alcohol concentration of .20 and/or having a minor in the vehicle can aggravate the offense and make it a first degree DWI.

    However, unlike non-felony DWI crimes, aggravating factors cannot further aggravate what is already a first degree DWI.

    If you have been charged with first degree DWI, it is important to secure the representation of a St. Paul DWI lawyer to fight the charges. Although the charge may be a first degree DWI, it is possible to have the charges reduced. If the circumstances are right, it is even possible to have a DWI charge dismissed.


    A person who is convicted of first degree DWI in Minnesota may be sentenced to any of the following:

    Imprisonment for up to seven years, which can be more than seven years if there is a prior criminal history

    A fine of up to $14,000


    A person sentenced to prison for first degree DWI is not eligible for early release unless they have successfully completed chemical dependency treatment. The court must order that the felony DWI offender be placed on conditional release for a five year period. If the person fails to comply with the release conditions, the commissioner may return the person to prison.


    Even if there are multiple offenses, that does not mean you are doomed to be convicted of first degree DWI. Yes, the case will be looked at with more scrutiny due to the fact that there has been a previous offense, but there have been cases where a criminal attorney has been able to successfully show that the defendant is not guilty of the charge. Sometimes being convicted of a previous offense will lead to the arresting officer making assumptions. In other words, the arrest can be somewhat messy and certain factors can be challenged in such cases. This is why it is important to secure the help of an experienced DWI lawyer.


    Being convicted with felony DWI is very serious because it can have a heavy impact on the future. Not only do the penalties involve large fines, jail, alcohol treatment programs, alcohol education, house arrest, probation, or community service, there are also a lot of personal penalties. Any time a felony is present on an individual’s record, they have difficulty finding a nice place to live, obtaining insurance, being hired by a company that pays better than average, and they always have this stigma surrounding them regarding being a criminal.

    To fight the charges, you need a St. Paul DWI lawyer to help you. There are a number of strategies that can be used to have the charges reduced or eliminated completely. When the charges are reduced, the penalties are reduced. However, the defense must be a competent and aggressive one so that the court can see the facts.


    A person is charged with DWI when they are found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In the case of alcohol, the blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, cannot be over .08.

    First time offenders are not typically charged with a felony unless there are certain aggravating factors present. For instance, a person under the influence of alcohol while operating a motor vehicle with drugs inside, as well as a minor child as a passenger, is an example of how the charges can be increased even on a first offense.

    Felony DWI charges, however, are most likely to be imposed on those that have offended multiple times. Nonetheless, a gross misdemeanor can be raised to a felony charge if another crime was being committed at the time of the DWI arrest. Many times, the discretion of the prosecutor is used to determine what the charge will really be.


    The one way to avoid the felony charge is to not operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated. When an individual is arrested once, the chances the offense will be committed again is high. This is why the penalties become more and more severe with each arrest. The first arrest may be a misdemeanor, but the second and third arrests are gross misdemeanors if no aggravating factors are present to increase them to felonies. The fourth arrest is a felony regardless, but the charges can still be fought by a competent St. Paul criminal lawyer.

    The reason why the fourth offense is so harsh is because every time a person drives under the influence, every individual in their vicinity is at risk of becoming a victim in an accident. Unfortunately, there are many accidents that occur as the result of individuals driving while intoxicated and the laws in Minnesota are designed to reduce the number of accidents that occur.


    In Minnesota, a 1st degree DWI is a felony. When an individual is charged with a 1st degree felony DWI, the consequences are rather serious. A person may be charged with 1st degree if they have had three or more prior impaired driving convictions within the past ten years and this is in addition to the current one. Such qualified prior offenses include a prior DWI conviction or prior loss of license due to an alcohol-related offense in Minnesota or another state with similar DWI laws.

    If you have been charged with DWI, it is your right to fight the charges. At the Ramsay Law Firm, PLLC, you will work with a St. Paul DWI Lawyer who has extensive experience in representing people just like you who have been charged with DWI and need to be able to move on with their lives in the most productive way possible.


    It can be tempting to go ahead and plead guilty to the charges to get the process over with, but the truth is that doing so may not be the best course of action. While you may be offered reduced consequences in exchange for a guilty plea, they may still be harsher than what you would receive fighting the charges, especially if there are factors in your case that could lead to case dismissal or a reduction in the charges.

    For instance, the arresting officer may not have had reasonable suspicion to pull you over in the first place, may not have administered field sobriety testing correctly, and may not have acquired a warrant for blood testing in a county that requires it if there is ample opportunity to obtain one. If there were any procedural errors at all, then the arrest can be deemed invalid and the case dismissed, otherwise your attorney works hard to avoid the harshest consequences in the matter.


    If convicted of a 1st degree DWI offense, the maximum sentence is a fine of up to $14,000 and up to 7 years in prison. Felony convictions also carry consequences, such as loss of the right to own a firearm, loss of the right to vote, and difficulty finding a place to live or work. Individuals with prior felony DWI convictions also open themselves up to further automatic felonies if they have subsequent DWI offenses.

    Other consequences that you can fight through your Minneapolis DWI attorney include whiskey plates, vehicle forfeiture, and driver’s license sanctions, such as losing driving privileges for a very long period of time, depending on the offense’s severity. To receive driving privileges back, a offender must pass a controlled substance and alcohol knowledge test and pay a $680 reinstatement fee when applying for a new license.