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What Are the Consequences for a Fourth Degree DWI in MN?

by | Jul 10, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Understanding a fourth degree DWI in Minnesota can be confusing. Whether you’re facing these charges or researching for someone who is, it’s important to understand the specific consequences. 

While a fourth degree DWI is classified as a misdemeanor, there’s a range of potential penalties that can significantly impact your life. The good news is that with the right knowledge and legal guidance, it’s possible to mitigate these fourth degree DWI consequences. This article is going to break down what a fourth degree DWI is, the penalties and some strategies to help you navigate this challenging situation.


What is a Fourth Degree DWI in Minnesota?

First, a fourth degree DWI in Minnesota is classified as a misdemeanor. This classification means that the maximum fourth degree DWI in Minnesota penalty can be up to 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both. Yes, these penalties definitely sound intimidating. However, they are typically used as a scare tactic. 

The reality is that it’s rare for those charged with a fourth degree DWI in Minnesota to serve jail time, except under unusual circumstances. While unable to guarantee outcomes due to legal restrictions, many attorneys find that familiarity with the court and prosecutor can influence the likelihood of avoiding jail time. 


Are There Mandatory Consequences?

In most cases, a fourth degree DWI in Minnesota implies that there are no prior DWIs or none within the last ten years. While jail time is sometimes a consequence, it’s not mandatory or usual. There are, however, obligatory conditions if convicted. These include completing a chemical use assessment, adhering to its recommendations and attending a Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact Panel. These requirements are designed to address the underlying issues and prevent future offenses. 


When Does Jail Become a Consequence?

There are instances where jail time as a consequence for a fourth degree DWI is pursued by the prosecution in certain circumstances. If the fourth degree DWI incident in Minnesota involved additional factors, such as an accident or prior DWIs just outside the enhancement period, the prosecutor might seek a harsher penalty. 

In some counties, often rural ones, they are more inclined to argue for jail time as a fourth degree DWI consequence even for a first-time offense. In contrast, urban areas are more often less stringent. Sometimes, individuals might volunteer for jail time to negotiate a more favorable plea deal. For instance, agreeing to a few days in jail might result in the charge being reduced to careless driving. Even in the same county, frequently city prosecutors, not the county attorney’s office, prosecute fourth degree DWIs. Some city prosecutors are harsher than other and seek jail time as a fourth degree DWI consequence in Minnesota.


Avoiding Jail for a Fourth Degree DWI

To avoid jail time, having a skilled attorney is crucial. An attorney who understands the nuances of different courts and prosecutors can tailor their approach to each unique situation. For instance, arguing against jail by highlighting urban practices in a rural court is ineffective and may even offend the judge. 

Instead, demonstrating proactive compliance with probationary requirements, such as completing a chemical use assessment and attending the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Impact Panel, can significantly impact the court’s decision. 

It’s also important to differentiate oneself from other defendants who received jail time for similar offenses. An experienced attorney familiar with local prosecutors can leverage past case results to negotiate better deals. They can argue that consistency in prosecutorial decisions is crucial, prompting prosecutors to offer fair agreement similar to previous. These strategies are crucial in mitigating fourth degree DWI consequences in Minnesota. 


Final Thoughts 

The bottom line is that while a fourth degree DWI in Minnesota carries potential penalties, including jail time and fines, these outcomes are not always set in stone. Understanding the mandatory conditions and knowing how to navigate the legal system with the help of an experienced attorney can greatly influence the final outcome. Proactive measures, strategic negotiations, and familiarity with local court practices are key to minimizing the consequences and moving forward with a clear record. 

If you’re facing a fourth degree DWI in Minnesota, you absolutely must seek legal help. Knowing the ins and outs can help you reduce your charge and lessen fourth degree DWI consequences in Minnesota. If you’re in need of legal advice, I’m ready to help.