Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charges are serious allegations and can be scary. The consequences vary depending on where it happened and the specific circumstances of the case. No cases are the same. Each individual case has its difficulties and challenges. However, common consequences typically include:
A DWI conviction can lead to jail. It is not uncommon for defendants to go to jail for a weekend or even prison, particularly for repeat offenders or cases involving aggravating factors. Aggravating factors can include a prior DWI conviction, test refusal, or children in the vehicle.
Loss of Driver’s License
The State suspends your driver’s license if you are charged with a DWI or DUI. The license loss can be from 90 days to years depending on prior DWI or DUI convictions.
Minnesota has administrative license suspension laws that can take effect immediately upon arrest or once you are charged. This is separate from any criminal penalties and is called implied consent. In short, you can lose your license as soon as you are arrested.
Probation is a strong possibility. Probation requires you to follow specific conditions for a certain amount of time called the probationary period. Examples of these conditions include: no use of alcohol or other mood-altering chemicals, complete a chemical use assessment and attend a MADD impact panel.
DWI and DUI convictions can carry hefty fines. A typical fine ranges from a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars depending upon the level of the charge. The Office of Traffic Safety estimates that in total, these can be as high as $20,000. However, if you have a good attorney, these fines can be reduced through negotiation.
Alcohol Education or Treatment Programs
Many jurisdictions mandate participation in alcohol education or treatment programs, especially for first-time offenders. This may involve attending classes or counseling sessions.
Increased Insurance Costs
A DWI conviction often leads to a significant increase in auto insurance premiums. Some individuals may even face difficulty obtaining insurance coverage.
A DWI conviction will result in a criminal record, which can have long-term consequences. A criminal conviction can affect your employment, housing and other aspects of life when a criminal background check is needed.
Depending on what county it occurred in, consequences may include community service as part of a DWI conviction.
As a condition for driving, you may be required to install an interlock ignition device. This is a small box that connects to your vehicle and will only allow your vehicle to start if the driver does not test positive for alcohol.
Loss of Vehicle
If you are a repeat offender, the State may try to forfeit or seize your vehicle.
With all the complexities of these cases, make sure you consult a lawyer who largely focuses their practice on helping people with DWI or DUI charges. This way you can be assured that your attorney will be trustworthy, experienced and knowledgeable about DWI laws. The State has a team of attorneys and support staff on their side, and you should have an experienced attorney and staff on your side, too. You can find more information about our team of attorneys here, or by scheduling a consultation.
Tom Hagen is a partner at Kohlmeyer Hagen Law Office Chtd. He has been named the National Attorney of the Year, Minnesota Attorneys of the Year among other awards. He focuses his practice on criminal defense with offices in Mankato and Rochester Minnesota. He has authored a book on DWI defense titled “Arrested for DWI: in Minnesota.”