From start to finish, the duration of a DWI case varies broadly depending on particular factors. These include: the severity of your DWI charge, the specific facts of your case, the jurisdiction, and how quickly the charges are filed in your case.

There are four levels of DWI. Generally, the least severe cases will take the shortest amount of time to resolve. Fourth Degree DWI is a misdemeanor and the least severe DWI in Minnesota. These cases can often move more quickly, because the prosecution generally does not file the charges against you. Fourth Degree DWIs are often charged by citation issued from the law enforcement agency that arrested you. The citation then gets entered into the court’s computer system and a first court date is scheduled. Getting the first court date scheduled is a significant factor in determining how long your case will last. Most Fourth Degree DWIs will finish within three to nine months. If there are legal issues in your case being contested, you end up in trial, or you appeal an issue, then your case may very well take a year or longer to finish.

First Degree DWI is a felony and most severe DWI in Minnesota. These cases will often take longer than any other DWI to complete. In these cases, the prosecution will file the charges against you. At your first court appearance, bail and other conditions of release are frequently imposed on you until your case resolves. These conditions usually include monitoring your alcohol and non-prescribed drug use. Thereafter, many pre-trial hearings can occur, such as a Rule 8 Hearing, Omnibus Hearing, Pre-Trial Hearing, and Contested Omnibus Hearing. If you reach an agreement in your case at any one of those hearings, then you will often have a separate Sentencing Hearing. If your case does not resolve at any of those pre-trial hearings, then you will end up in a trial in front of a jury or a judge. If you lose your trial, then you will have a Sentencing Hearing at a later date. Because of all these factors, felony DWI cases will frequently take at least a year to conclude.

Second and Third Degree DWIs are both gross misdemeanor offenses. These fall between First and Fourth Degree on the severity scale. Third Degree DWI cases occur when someone tests at least double the legal limit, they refuse to take a test, they have a prior DWI conviction or driver’s license revocation deriving from a DWI within the past ten years, or they had a child in the car during their DWI. Second Degree DWI’s happen when someone has two prior DWI convictions and / or license revocations stemming from a DWI within the past ten years, a prior plus a refusal in their instant case, at least double the legal limit in their current case plus a prior, double the legal limit or a refusal plus a child in the car, or a child in the car plus a prior. Because Second and Third Degree DWIs are aggravated offenses, these cases will often take longer to complete than Fourth Degree DWI cases. The possibility for incarceration also increases with these cases. Therefore, these cases will vary greatly in how long they take to resolve. It is not uncommon to see gross misdemeanor DWIs take three months, six months, or even much longer to complete.

The jurisdiction your DWI case occurs in also impacts the length of your case significantly. Some counties are notorious for processing cases quickly, such as Ramsey County, while others may take longer to schedule court dates. Once the court process starts, you do have the right to demand speedy hearings. You can demand a speedy trial, which requires the court to hear your trial within sixty days of your demand with limited exceptions. In gross misdemeanor and felony cases, you can also demand a speedy omnibus hearing, which must take place within twenty-eight days of scheduling. Most times, these speedy requests are made by those sitting in jail awaiting final disposition of their case. For those out of custody defendants, it may still be advisable to demand a speedy hearing in some situations.


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