Third Degree DWI in Minnesota is a gross misdemeanor level offense. Gross misdemeanors have a maximum punishment of up to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine. Third Degree DWI is neither the most severe, nor least severe DWI. First Degree DWI is the most serious in Minnesota, which is a felony level offense. While Fourth Degree DWI is the least severe DWI as a misdemeanor offense.

There are a few different ways a person can be charged with a Third Degree DWI. Even if it is your first DWI offense, you can be charged with a Third Degree DWI in Minnesota. If it is your first offense and your alcohol level is .16 or more, then you can be charged with Third Degree DWI. If you have a child under the age of 16 in your vehicle at the time of the offense, then you can be charged with Third Degree DWI. If you refuse to submit to an evidentiary test, then you can be charged with Third Degree DWI Refusal on your first offense. Notably, when we are discussing what your test level is or refusing the test, we are talking about the evidentiary test a law enforcement officer may ask you to take. The preliminary breath test (PBT) that an officer may ask you to take at the side of the road or location of your arrest is not an evidentiary test. They cannot charge you with a refusal DWI for refusing a PBT. Similarly, you cannot be charged with a DWI for testing .08 or .16 or more based on the result of your PBT. An evidentiary test is needed for those things. That test is generally requested at a police department or jail. In Minnesota, when an officer requests an evidentiary breath test, they are supposed to read you the Minnesota Breath Test Advisory. This advisory includes your rights to speak with an attorney before deciding to take the evidentiary test.

Another way a person can be charged with Third Degree DWI is if they have a prior DWI or designated license revocation within the past ten years. This is an aggravating factor that also triggers a mandatory minimum sentence. Depending on the prosecutor, judge, and work of your defense attorney, you may be able to avoid the mandatory minimum sentence. Third Degree DWI arrests can also lead to being held in custody until either bail is set and paid, you see a judge, or are released after the thirty-six- or forty-eight-hour rule applies.

Third Degree DWIs will also come with longer license revocation and potential license plate impoundment. Currently, a Third Degree DWI will trigger a one-year driver’s license revocation. For Third Degree DWI Refusal cases, a limited license or work permit is currently an option during the license revocation period. For Third Degree DWIs based on a prior DWI within the past ten years or a test of .16 or more on a first offense, the ignition interlock program is an option during the revocation period. In either event, or in any license revocation stemming from a DWI, you have sixty days from the date the notice is served to challenge it with a petition for judicial review in court. Depending on the county, you may be able to get a driver’s license reinstatement on a temporary basis while your case is ongoing.  Contact our Minnesota DWI Attorneys today to discuss your case.


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