The offense of DWI (often called driving under the influence, or DUI) in Minnesota is categorized into four different levels, or degrees: misdemeanor fourth-degree DWI; gross misdemeanor third degree DWI; gross misdemeanor second degree DWI; and felony first degree DWI. For each degree, the potential punishment and driver’s license ramifications increase. What degree you are charged with depends on the presence of “aggravating factors.”

When one aggravating factor is present (or when a person refuses to take the test), the offense is enhanced to a gross misdemeanor third degree DWI. What this means is that a first offense within ten years will be enhanced to a gross misdemeanor with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .16 or more, a BAC of .08-.15 with a child present, or any refusal. A second offense within ten years will automatically be a third degree or higher.

When two or more aggravating factors are present, the offense is enhanced to a second-degree gross misdemeanor DWI. What this means is that a first offense within ten years will be enhanced to a second-degree if you have a BAC of .16 or more with a child present, or if you refuse with a child present. A second offense within ten years will be enhanced to a second degree if you have a BAC of .16 or more, a BAC or .08-.15 with a child present, or a refusal. A third offense within ten years is automatically a second degree regardless of the presence of any aggravating factors.