In Minnesota, penalties for driving while intoxicated (DWI) by alcohol are severe. They can include fines (as high as $1,000 for a first offense) and a jail sentence (as high as up to 90 days for a first offense). Your license may also be suspended for as much as 90 days. In addition, an ignition interlock device (IID), which renders the car inoperable if it senses alcohol, is required for every offense, including the first.
The penalties also rise sharply. A second offense, for example, carries a fine as high as $3,000.
As the language “up to” and “as much as” indicates, though, the court has discretion in setting the amount of fines, jail time, and days that a license may be suspended. It is possible that the court will set the penalties on the lower end of the scale if mitigating factors exist.
What are mitigating factors? They are elements that may help to either explain the DWI or excuse it. If a driver was operating a vehicle in an erratic manner and the effects can be shown to be the result of medication that was lawfully prescribed for the driver, the court may see that as a mitigating factor.
Other examples of mitigating factors? An excellent driving record combined with a blood alcohol count (BAC) that was borderline on the state threshold of 0.8% might be seen mitigating. If an offender with a past history of DWIs has voluntary completed a substance abuse program, that may also be viewed by the court as a mitigating factor.
Because of the complexity of the law and the interplay of mitigating and aggravating factors, it is highly advisable to consult an attorney if you have been charged with a DWI.