If you’re asking is a 4th degree DWI bad, you should know that it is the lowest-level offense within DWI offenses. While the potential penalties are lower than the other DWI offenses recognized under state law, it does not mean a conviction will not have meaningful consequences. For many people, a 4th degree DWI conviction could complicate their life forever.
If you have been arrested for DWI in Minnesota, understand that these charges are defensible. Many people arrested for DWI are ultimately acquitted or see the charges against them dismissed. While no attorney can guarantee a favorable outcome in your case, the attorneys of Gerald Miller will work tirelessly to obtain the best result in your DWI case.
What is a Fourth-Degree DWI?
Most of the time, first-time offenders will be charged with fourth-degree DWI for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Minnesota. Under state law, the specific DWI charge used by a prosecutor will depend on the number of “aggravating factors” present. The more aggravating factors, the higher the criminal charge. To be charged with a 4th degreed DWI, you must not have any aggravating factors. Examples of aggravating factors include:
- Having a BAC of .20 or more
- Having a prior DWI conviction in the previous ten years
- Having a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle at the time of the arrest
In other words, a first-time DWI offender will face 4th degree charges unless the BAC level is at .2 or more or if they have a child passenger in the vehicle.
Penalties for a Fourth-Degree DWI
In Minnesota, a 4th degree DWI is a misdemeanor offense. This is the lowest level of criminal offense available under state law. If you are convicted of a 4th degree DWI, you face a maximum jail term of 90 days behind bars. At trial, the judge has the discretion to set your sentence if you are convicted. Additionally, you could also face a fine of up to $1,000. The court has the power to assess jail time, a fine, or a combination of the two.
In many counties, it is not unusual for the court to set stay any sentence of jail time and order a defendant to serve one to two years of probation. If that person completes probation without facing additional criminal charges, they will never serve any time behind bars.
Does Fourth-Degree DWI Have Mandatory Minimums?
There is no mandatory minimum sentence for a 4th degree DWI under Minnesota law. This is a departure from many of the more serious DWI charges, as they can carry minimum terms of incarceration.
In most cases, the court will not order additional jail time for a fourth-degree DWI. However, there is no guarantee the judge will not order jail in any given case. Additionally, there is always the possibility of probation and fines.
Not all consequences of a DWI conviction are governed by statute. There are certain collateral consequences that come with a DWI conviction even though they are not written into the state statute. For example, a DWI conviction will result in the suspension of your driving privileges.
A DWI conviction can also damage your reputation. This can do more than impact your personal life. Many employers will refuse to hire someone with a DWI conviction. Landlords also have the right to refuse to lease their property to a person with a criminal conviction.
A conviction could also have other professional consequences. Individuals that require a professional license to make a living could see their license revoked. This is especially true for pilots and professional drivers.
Discuss Your DWI Case With Gerald Miller
When you’re asking is a 4th degree DWI bad, it depends on where you are in life. For many, the social and professional consequences of a conviction can have a devastating impact. In some cases, a DWI conviction could result in serious consequences like jail time or steep fines.
Before you plead guilty to a DWI charge, let the attorneys of Gerald Miller review your case. Our team understands what it takes to beat a DWI charge and we are ready to help you fight back. Call right away to schedule your free consultation.