Fourth Degree DWI in Minnesota is a misdemeanor offense. While misdemeanors have a maximum punishment of up to ninety days in jail and a $1,000 fine, Fourth Degree DWI is the lowest level of DWI in Minnesota. First Degree DWI is the most severe as a felony. Second and Third Degree DWI are gross misdemeanor level offenses.
A person can get a Fourth Degree DWI if it is their first offense and their alcohol level is below .16. Importantly, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level needs to be below. 16 for the evidentiary test, which is a breath test a person submits to at the police department or jail after being arrested for a DWI. That is different than the preliminary breath test (PBT) a person may take at the location of the arrest, side of the road, etc. That PBT cannot be used solely to charge someone with a DWI. The PBT can be used as evidence to arrest someone for DWI, which will lead to a request to take the evidentiary test at the jail or police department.
After the testing procedure at the jail or police department, if the result is less than .16 and the person does not have any prior DWIs or designated license revocations in the past ten years, then the officer may give the person a citation for Fourth Degree DWI. Then, the person is often released to a sober party. Sometimes, a person may be released on their own if they are able to provide a breath test showing all zeroes at some point. It is rare that a person will be required to pay bail on a misdemeanor DWI case.
Upon release, the person will be notified of their first court appearance. This notification can either come right on the spot by an officer providing the notice to you or it can come later from the court through the mail. Most private criminal defense attorneys will handle the first appearance for you without you needing to appear if you sign a waiver of appearance form. In that situation, the attorney will select the pre-trial hearing at your first appearance and notify you afterwards what date that will be.
Also, upon release from custody, you will likely receive a notice an order of license revocation. For Fourth Degree DWI cases, if you took an alcohol concentration test that resulted between .08 and .15, then the revocation will be for ninety days. You only have sixty days to challenge that revocation. There will also be an option to get a limited license (a.k.a. work permit) after fifteen days have passed the seven-day temporary license that is issued to you upon release from custody.
It is also important to note that DWIs are enhanceable offenses. Any subsequent DWI within a ten-year period can be more severe. Four DWIs in ten years is a felony offense. The civil penalties can also be more severe, including longer license revocations and forfeiture of your motor vehicle in certain situations.