Drunk driving or driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Minnesota is a relatively common offense. Most people who get arrested for a DWI are going to face misdemeanor charges. While the offense is a serious one that could result in jail time, fines and mandatory license suspension, it is still not as serious as a felony.
However, not all DWI charges are misdemeanors. There are some people who get arrested for impaired driving who will face felony charges as a result. What factors can lead to felony DWI offenses for those driving while under the influence?
If someone suffers serious injuries or dies, felony charges are likely
Standard impaired driving offenses result from traffic stops, but people also get charged if they cause a crash or hurt someone while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Any collision that results in substantial bodily harm, great bodily harm or death will likely lead to felony charges for the driver who is under the influence and caused the crash.
Can you face a felony if no one got hurt?
Causing injury or death to someone is a common and obvious aggravating factor that will result in a felony offense. However, you don’t have to hurt someone or even cause a crash to face felony DWI charges under Minnesota law.
If you have had three or more previous impaired driving charges in the last 10 years, your charge this time will likely be a felony charge. Someone with three previous offenses in the last decade could potentially face up to seven years in prison and up to $14,000 in fines. After release, a person convicted of felony DWI will have a conditional release that could result in incarceration again and will not be able to get their license back for at least four years.
Additionally, if you had any previous felony impaired driving charge, even if it was a single charge, your new offense will likely be a felony charge as well. Although both misdemeanor and felony DWI charges are worth defending against, felony charges typically necessitate the most aggressive response because of the serious social stigma and criminal penalties that they carry.