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Understanding the penalties for a first DWI

A DWI conviction can come with serious penalties in Minnesota, even for people facing a first offense in an incident where no one was injured. To be arrested for DWI, an individual must usually be found in control of a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. Of course, this applies to people pulled over while driving, but it can also apply to those found in their parked vehicles.

When people are convicted of drunk driving, they can face both criminal penalties and administrative sanctions. This is exacerbated if they have a BAC of 0.16 or more, twice the legal limit. In this case, even a first-time offender will be required to use an ignition interlock or lose their driving privileges for one or two years. In all cases, if people lose their driving privileges due to DWI, they must pay $680 to reinstate their license as well as presenting a driver's license application with fees and taking a DWI knowledge test.

A first-offense DWI can be a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances. A misdemeanor conviction comes with 90 days of jail time and/or a $1,000 fine, while a gross misdemeanor conviction can carry up to one year of jail time and/or a $3,000 fine. People can lose driving privileges for 90 days to one year; in some cases, they can avoid these sanctions by accepting an ignition interlock. First-time offenders may actually lose all privileges for only a portion of the time and have a limited license otherwise.

People may also feel pressured to plead guilty to DWI because first-time offenders without children in their vehicle can see their penalties reduced. Because drunk driving convictions can carry long-term consequences, people might benefit from consulting with a DUI defense attorney to provide strong representation and guidance.

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