Fourth Degree DWI
In Minnesota, Fourth Degree DWI is a misdemeanor offense that is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. There is no mandatory minimum sentence to serve.
Fourth Degree DWI is defined as the commission of a first-time DWI within 10 years and committed without the presence of any aggravating factors, i.e., an alcohol concentration of 0.16 more, test refusal, or child under age 16 in the vehicle.
A person arrested for suspected Fourth Degree DWI may be released to a friend or family member after fingerprinting or may be booked into jail for several hours and released later that day.
If a person does not have a prior DWI conviction or DWI license revocation in his or her lifetime and the alleged alcohol concentration is 0.10 or less, the person often has a good chance to reduce the offense to misdemeanor careless driving. The ability to negotiate a reduction depends on several factors, including the driving conduct, one's criminal/driving record, and the jurisdiction where it occurred.
In the typical Fourth Degree DWI case, it is unlikely that a defendant will be sentenced to serve any executed jail time. In most cases, the court will stay the execution of 30 to 90 days of jail time and place the defendant on probation for one or two years. In some counties like Hennepin, a defendant often is ordered to perform one or more days of community work service in lieu of one or two days in jail. As long as the defendant complies with the terms of probation over one or two years, the defendant will avoid having to serve time in jail (aside from any jail time that occurred upon arrest).
The typical conditions of probation are to remain law abiding and successfully complete a chemical dependency assessment and follow its recommended educational or treatment program. Judges usually order a defendant to complete a two-hour victim impact panel offered by MADD. Depending on the facts of the case and where it occurred, a judge may order a defendant to abstain from the use of alcohol and drugs during probation and be subject to random testing.
Factors that can complicate a Fourth Degree DWI case include cases involving accidents, alcohol concentrations of 0.16 or more, and defendants who have prior DWI incidents or other convictions involving the use of alcohol or drugs.