How Long Do DWI Cases Take?

It depends. From arrest to final disposition, it can be a matter of a few days to a few years. Factors that impact the length of your case include: the level of your DWI charge, the facts of your case, the location, and how long it takes for a prosecutor to charge out your case.

Minnesota has four levels of DWI. Generally, the least severe cases finish the quickest. The least severe DWI in Minnesota is a Fourth Degree DWI. One reason Fourth Degree DWI cases do not take very long is you usually do not have to wait for the prosecutor to file charges against you. Law enforcement often files the charges against you through a citation. That citation is transferred to the court and the court schedules a first appearance. The initiation of a first court date is a substantial factor in how long your DWI case will take. Many Fourth-Degree DWI cases will last roughly three to nine months. If your DWI attorney challenges legal issues in your case, or your case goes to trial, then it is common for your case to last a year or longer.

The most severe DWI in Minnesota is First Degree DWI. Commonly, these take the longest to complete. The prosecutor for your jurisdiction, frequently the local county attorney’s office for felony matters, will have to file the charges against you. Sometimes, they file them within a matter of days. Other times, it can take weeks or months before they file charges. Once the charges are filed, then a first court appearance will be scheduled. There, bail and other conditions of release, such as no use of alcohol or non-prescribed drugs with random testing are imposed on you, which you must follow until your case concludes. After your bail hearing or first appearance, the court will schedule a Rule 8 Hearing or an Omnibus Hearing. After that stage, other pre-trial hearings can occur, such as a formal Pre-Trial Hearing, Contested Omnibus Hearing, or Settlement Conference. It is possible to resolve your case at any of those hearings. If you do, then the court usually schedules a Sentencing Hearing later. If there is no resolution to your case in the pre-trial stages, then the court will schedule a trial date. You can elect to have hour trial with a judge or jury. To get from start to finish in this process, it can take some time.

Aggravated DWI offenses include Second and Third Degree DWI. These are both gross misdemeanor offenses. They are not as severe as a First Degree DWI, but more so than a Fourth Degree. A Third Degree DWI occurs if a driver tests at least double the legal limit. It can also happen if the driver refuses the test or if they have a prior DWI conviction or driver’s license revocation in the past ten years. Third Degree DWI can also happen if the driver has a child under the age of sixteen in the car during their DWI. A Second Degree DWI can occur when a driver has two prior DWI convictions or license revocations from a DWI in the past ten years. It can also occur if the driver has a prior DWI conviction or designated license revocation plus a refusal in the current case. It can also happen if the driver tests at least double the legal limit in their current case plus a prior, double the legal limit or a refusal plus a child in the car, or a child in the car plus a prior. Because Second and Third Degree DWIs are aggravated DWI, these cases will often take a bit longer to finish. The potential for jail time also increases in Second and Third Degree DWI cases. Because of that, these cases can take varying lengths of time to finish.

Where the DWI occurs is also a major factor in how long your case can last. Some jurisdictions are well known for moving cases through quickly, such as Ramsey County. Other counties can take longer to schedule court dates and process them from start to finish. If the length of a case is a major concern for you, then you can demand speedy hearings. Based on the rules and availability of the court that can move the case more quickly for you. However, based on the merits of your case, demanding speedy hearings is not always the best idea. It is strongly advised that you discuss invoking your speedy hearing rights with your lawyer.