A glass of alcohol drink with a finger with car keys on the front.

What Is a 3rd Degree DWI in Minnesota?

A 3rd Degree DWI in Minnesota is a serious offense with penalties that include a driver’s license revocation, whiskey plates, steep fines, and jail time if convicted.

A glass of alcohol drink with a finger with car keys on the front.

Minnesota 3rd Degree DWI Convictions

In Minnesota, a driver convicted of a 3rd Degree DWI offense faces serious consequences. If convicted, it is a Gross Misdemeanor criminal charge that is one step above a Misdemeanor and one step below a Felony.

Aggravating factors that constitute a 3rd Degree DWI criminal charge include:

  • A prior DWI or loss of license due to alcohol-related charges within the past 10 years
  • A blood, urine, or breath test with a result of .16 or above
  • Refusal to provide a blood, urine, or breath test after requested by a police officer
  • An impaired driver has a passenger who is 16 years of age or younger in the car

If none of the above conditions apply, the offender will likely be charged with a 4th Degree DWI, a lesser offense that carries lighter penalties. If a driver is convicted of a Minnesota 3rd Degree DWI, he/she may face jail time, even if the above conditions do not apply. If the driver does not have a prior DWI or alcohol-related loss of license within the past 10 years, the mandatory minimum jail sentence of 30 days does not apply, however, the judge may still impose this sentence if the offender pleads guilty. If sentenced to 30 days in jail, the offender must serve at least 48 consecutive hours in jail. The remaining time may be served by electronic home monitoring or a work release if the offender is eligible. 

Penalties for a 3rd Degree DWI

Penalties for a 3rd Degree DWI include a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days in jail and a loss of driver’s license and license plates for one year. If it’s a second DWI offense within the last 10 years, penalties may include up to one year in jail and loss of driver’s license for at least two years. A third DWI conviction may result in one year or more in jail, a $3,000 fine, and vehicle forfeiture.

If convicted of a 3rd Degree DWI in Minnesota, a person may also face additional consequences that include: mandatory whiskey plates; a criminal record showing a gross misdemeanor; mandatory community service; loss of job and/or income; higher insurance costs.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Knowing how to choose a criminal defense lawyer in Minneapolis, MN, can help you hire a lawyer who will prepare an effective defense strategy and fight for the best result from your case. One of the crucial tips when selecting a criminal defense lawyer is to vet those with relevant experience in cases like yours. You can only do this when you thoroughly understand the charges you are facing.
People anticipating an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, might ask, “What is the role of a defense attorney during an arrest?” A skilled criminal defense attorney can explain your options, ensure the police follow the rules, and protect your rights. The attorney will build a solid defense, talk to the prosecutor, and fight for your best interests.
Knowing when to hire a criminal lawyer for your case in Minnesota can help protect your constitutional rights and turn the odds in your favor. You should retain a criminal lawyer immediately after learning you are under investigation, get arrested, or are charged with a crime. Seasoned criminal lawyers understand the criminal justice system, can build a winning defense strategy, and aggressively push for a positive outcome of your case.