A third-degree DWI in Minnesota will be charged as a gross misdemeanor. If convicted of this charge, you are facing a jail sentence of up to one year with a fine of $3,000. The minimum amount charged for this offense is $900, but there is a surcharge of approximately $80 added to this fine. Depending on the factors involved with your case, you may not even be charged the full $900.

You will need reliable legal counsel to fight these charges, and to fight to have your sentence, and fines reduced. Ringstrom Law understands the DWI laws of Minnesota and will plan a legal defense for you that will get you the best outcome to these serious charges.

What is a Third Degree DWI?

A third-degree DWI, under the laws of Minnesota, are defined as having an aggravating factor present when you are charged with a DWI. These aggravating factors include:

Having a prior DWI on your record within ten years when arrested for another

If your third-degree DWI is due to this aggravating factor, you are looking at mandatory penalties. If you have a prior DWI on your record within the past ten years, you are looking at a mandatory sentence of thirty days immediately. The Minnesota Statute will require you to serve thirty days. Of the thirty days, the courts can decide to let you serve all but forty-eight hours on ‘house arrest.’ 

The forty-eight hours will need to be served consecutively in your local jail, or the jail in the county where your arrest occurred. The remaining twenty-eight days can be served on house arrest. A house arrest will require you to wear an electronic home monitoring system. This sentence varies depending on the county you are charged in. Some counties use this as a typical sentence, and in others, it is not an option. Whether or not this is an option for you will depend on the circumstances of your case.

If you have a strong legal defense with Ringstrom Law, there will be a legal strategy to implement, which means you could overcome or avoid time in custody.

Testing at a BAC of 0.16 percent or higher at the time of your arrest

A reading of 0.16 percent on your breath test is twice the legal limit allowed. While there are no mandatory penalties, the State Attorney can impose more extended community service or require jail time because of this high reading. An experienced criminal defense attorney can find you more favorable results, such as no jail time or minimal community service. Ringstrom Law will work hard to make sure you receive the best defense possible.

Having a passenger in your vehicle at the time of arrest who is under the age of 16

Refusing to take the breath test

Third-degree DWI refusal is similar to testing with a BAC of 0.16 percent or higher. While there are no mandatory penalties, prosecutors can and often do seek stiffer penalties than a standard first-time offense. Your attorney at Ringstrom Law is able to overcome these penalties with the right defense strategy.

Not only will you be facing criminal penalties, but there are also collateral consequences with these charges as well. You can lose your license for one year. If this is the first time you’ve refused to take the breath testing, the revocation period can be reduced to thirty or ninety days if your attorney is able to plea bargain the charges down to a fourth-degree DWI or third-degree DWI Refusal.

Your license plates can also be impounded. It is expensive to get your license fully valid after the revocation period. The cost of this process can go as high as $700.00. Other hidden costs are associated with a third-degree DWI, which makes it vital that you contact Ringstrom Law to protect yourself legally and financially.

How a Third Degree DWI is Charged

If you are arrested and charged with a third-degree DWI charge in Minnesota, it will mean you have an aggravating factor related to your criminal record. You have either been tested with a BAC of 0.16 percent of higher, had a child under the age of 16 in your vehicle at the time of your arrest, or have prior DWIs on your record. The prosecutors and judges will look at these charges much more seriously than a routine first-time offense.

If you are arrested and suspected of a third-degree DWI, you may be released from custody right away, or you can be held in jail to await your court appearance and be subject to the conditions of release or bail. A charge of third-degree DWI does not automatically mean you will be required to post bail or meet conditions of release. If, however, the charges are enhanced because of your BAC levels, or you have a minor under 16 years of age in your vehicle, the Minnesota Statute will require you post the maximum amount for bail, which can be as high as $12,000.

If the fine is not imposed for an enhanced third-degree DWI charge, you may then be released on continuous alcohol monitoring for the duration of time you wait to go to court. An alcohol monitoring system will cost you anywhere from $50 to $100 a week and will have to be paid until your case is finished.

If your DWI third-degree is inflated because of a prior DWI incident on your files within the past ten years, you will not be subject to mandatory bail or conditions of release. If this is the case in your arrest, the arresting police officer will have the authority to recommend your release from custody or to require you to be held until a judge determines your bail amount or other conditions of release for your situation.

This ‘conditional’ release means defendants are often treated differently, depending on the officer making the arrest, and the jurisdiction of your alleged offense. Being released from custody right away will depend on these factors, as well as the facts of your case and your criminal history.

If you have no previous DWI convictions on your record, and you have had no DWI license revocations in your lifetime, the facts on your case will be routine, and with a good criminal defense attorney working with you, there is a good chance that your charges will be reduced from gross misdemeanor third-degree DWI to a misdemeanor fourth-degree DWI. Receiving this form of charge reduction depends on several factors:

  • Your driving conduct at the time you were arrested
  • Your driving and criminal record
  • The jurisdiction where your arrest occurred
  • The presence of potential defense strategies in your case

Conviction of a Third Degree DWI

If you are convicted of a third-degree DWI, the court will put you on probation for two to four years. The most extended probation term that can be imposed for this conviction is six years. The standard conditions of this probation are that you remain law-abiding and complete a chemical dependency assessment successfully.

You will also be required to follow an educational treatment program. Additional consequences can include you completing a two-hour victim impact panel under the direction of MADD. Some situations depend on the jurisdiction and the judge presiding over your case, where you may be required to abstain from the use of drugs or alcohol during your probation period. This requirement is enforced through random testing to ensure you’re following the rules. 

A third-degree DWI is a gross misdemeanor, but it is still a criminal offense. As a criminal offense, you will be required to tell future employers about these charges and that you’ve been convicted of a crime. When you have your attorney from Ringstrom Law working on your case, you will have a better chance of not spending any time in jail.

DWI License Revocation

If you experience a driver’s license revocation when you are arrested for a DWI in Minnesota, you will have sixty days from the date of Notice and Order of Revocation to challenge this consequence. Typically, the sixty-day revocation begins on the day of your arrest. If you submitted to a urine or blood test, you would not receive the notice of revocation until after the State has had a chance to analyze your sample to check for Schedule I or II Controlled Substances or alcohol. This test can take several weeks.

As of July 2011, the Minnesota Legislature amended the license consequences for DWI offenders. There is an exception for first-time offenders if your BAC is less than 0.16 percent, and you refuse the breath testing. The new law requires alleged offenders to pick between going at least one year without being able to drive or participate in the Ignition Interlock Device program from one to six years. If you choose to go without your license, you will not be eligible for the limited license known as the work license.

The new laws also require drivers who own or co-own a vehicle to obtain ‘whiskey plates’ to be on your vehicle during the entire time you do not have full driving privileges. If your privileges have been Canceled IPS due to a DWI incident, you will have to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program for at least three years before your driving privileges can be reinstated.

Difference Between First, Second, Third, and Fourth Degree DWI

A DWI charge is a frightening experience in Minnesota. There is the potential of jail time and fines, along with other consequences such as losing your driving privileges or having them extremely monitored and restricted. There are four degrees of DWI (driving while impaired) offenses in Minnesota, and each relates to varying levels of seriousness of the charge and how you will be penalized. Which sentence or penalty imposed will depend on which level of DWI conviction you receive, whether or not you have previous DWI convictions or prior driver’s license revocations, and if there are any aggravating factors attached to your charges.

A fourth-degree DWI charge occurs if there are no aggravating factors attached to your case and does not include a violation of 169A.220 subd 2. You can face a fourth-degree DWI for a first offense that has no aggravating factors, your past DWI charges were more than ten years ago, or your BAC tested at less than .16 percent.

A third-degree DWI conviction in Minnesota is what you will face if your case has one aggravating factor. If you are convicted of a second-degree DWI, it will be because you have two aggravating factors attached to your case, and the penalties are much the same as a third-degree charge.

A first-degree DWI conviction, under Minnesota Statutes 169A.24, has much stiffer penalties, and the sentencing is more severe. A first-degree DWI is charged if your case involves three aggravating factors, or you have been convicted of a felony DWI anytime in your life. Potential sentences for a first-degree conviction is no more than seven years in prison and not less than three years with a $14,000 fine.

If you are charged with a fourth DWI within ten years, your mandatory sentence will be:

  • Minimum of 180 days of incarceration with at least thirty of those days being served consecutively in jail
  • Entering a program which includes intensive supervision which will require you to serve at least six consecutive days in jail
  • You will have to enter a program of staggered sentencing which will involve a minimum of 180 days of incarceration with at least thirty of those days being served consecutively in jail

If you are arrested and convicted for a fifth DWI offense or greater within ten years, you are facing a mandatory minimum jail sentence:

  • A minimum of one year of incarceration with at least sixty of those days being served consecutively in jail
  • Entering a program of intensive supervision which will require you to serve at least six consecutive days in jail
  • You will have to enter a program of staggered sentencing that will include a minimum of 180 days of incarceration with at least sixty consecutive days in jail

Determining if you will be charged with first, second, or third-degree DWI in Minnesota, it involves separate incidents being involved with any kind of motor vehicle. These vehicles include, but are not limited to:

  • Head Start bus
  • Airplane
  • All-Terrain vehicle
  • Motorboat
  • Passenger motor vehicle
  • Commercial motor vehicle
  • Snowmobile
  • Off-road recreational vehicle

With each degree of DWI, the severity of your penalties increase, and this makes it critical to your future to work with Ringstrom Law, who will do everything in our power to get charges reduced, and possibly even dismissed. Having a first-degree or second-degree charge for DWI reduced to a third-degree Minnesota DWI could mean a significant amount of savings in your fines, and a considerable reduction of possible jail time.

The other potential consequences include having your license revoked, license plates revoked, and your insurance increasing significantly. A DWI conviction on your record can even limit your employment opportunities, so having a reliable and experienced criminal defense attorney working with you is your best chance for a favorable outcome. Ringstrom Law is the attorney you need to get the best defense possible.

Defense Strategies for Third Degree DWI

There are a number of strategies a criminal defense attorney can use to challenge third degree DWI charges in Minnesota. Your attorney at Ringstom Law will review the interaction between you and the police and specifically why they stopped your vehicle that resulted in your arrest. It will also be investigated how the chemical testing was conducted at the time of your arrest, and the reliability of that testing. Other factors to review are the observations of the law enforcement officer during the roadside interaction with you, as well as how they conducted themselves with you at the station.

It is extremely rare for there to be no challenges with actions or testing done at the time of your arrest. The police officer dashboard video camera, police reports, witness statements, testing reports, evidence collected, and any other material related to your arrest will be scrutinized to ensure it is accurate. These materials will be carefully reviewed to make sure there have been no flaws or inconsistencies. This strategy is the beginning of building a strong defense against your third-degree DWI charges. With the experience and knowledge of Ringstrom Law, there is a good chance your DWI charges will be reduced or even dismissed.

Find Legal Help for Third Degree DWI Near Me

Facing a third-degree DWI charge is a serious legal challenge that can impact your criminal record, your finances, and you could face possible jail time. Contact Ringstrom Law at 218-284-0484 today and allow them to use their invaluable courtroom experience and knowledge of Minnesota DWI law to help you reduce your charges or possibly have them dismissed. Call them today, and they will begin building your defense strategy for a better outcome against these charges.

Bruce Ringstrom Jr. & Bruce Ringstrom Sr.

Criminal Defense Attorneys in MN & ND

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