DWI Convictions Can Haunt You For a Long Time in Minnesota [infographic]

A Minnesota DWI conviction can impact a person’s life for a long time, often resulting in steep fines, jail time, loss of driving privileges, and problems with employment, housing, and even child custody arrangements. While getting a DWI expunged is possible for some people in Minnesota, it isn’t always easy.

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Expunging DWI Convictions

In January 2015, a Minnesota law went into effect making it possible to expunge DWI convictions from criminal records. However, Minnesota’s DWI task force is now calling for changes that will make expungement of DWI convictions more difficult. The task force argues that it is currently too easy for people with DWI offenses to expunge their records. The task force says 40 percent of drivers convicted for DWI offenses eventually re-offend.

Over the years, Minnesota has allowed employers to make a blanket ban on hiring anyone with a criminal record. This made it very difficult for offenders to clean up their past mistakes and improve their lives with new jobs and good housing. In 2015, the new law made it easier for people convicted of certain crimes to have their criminal records expunged. An expungement seals the records from background checks by employers and landlords, helping offenders obtain jobs and housing. Although expunging DWI convictions is now easier than it used to be in Minnesota, it is still not an easy process. Not all ex-offenders qualify for expungements. The law applies primarily to misdemeanors, juvenile delinquency, and low-level felonies. To expunge a DWI conviction, the offender must serve his/her required sentence and successfully complete a waiting period without further offenses or arrests.

Minnesota’s Second Chance Law allows people convicted of certain low-level felonies to appeal to the court for expungement of their criminal records. According to this law, a felony conviction for 50 different allowable offenses will revert to a misdemeanor after an offender’s sentence is successfully served. Once it reverts to a misdemeanor, it becomes eligible for expungement.

A DWI conviction can impact a person’s future for many years. It can cost the offender thousands of dollars in penalties, increased insurance rates, and a driver’s license revocation that can permanently remain on a driver’s record, even if he/she is found not guilty of the charges. A first-offense DWI can result in jail time from 90 days up to one year. Repeat offenses can be charged as felony offenses with jail time up to seven years.

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-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. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

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

Involve a criminal appeal attorney soon after you learn the prosecution is appealing your sentence. Your attorney will walk you through the involving and confusing sentencing guidelines. An attorney's involvement will also help you develop a defense strategy for the appeal.