The Details of DUI/DWI Charges

If you have been charged with DWI or DUI for the first time you are probably frightened and wondering what all of the terms mean and how they impact your case. The following explanations will help.

Blood Alcohol Content: Also known as BAC, blood alcohol content is the unit used to measure the level of intoxication. BAC is actually the percentage of alcohol in the bloodstream. A blood test is the most reliable method for measuring BAC but a Breathalyzer test is the most frequently used. It is portable allowing police officers to carry a Breathalyzer on patrol. A Breathalyzer is the least reliable method of measuring BAC and provides an estimate of the blood alcohol concentration. As indicated by the name, the test is conducted by having someone breathe into the measurement device. A third method that can be used to determine BAC is a urine test, but typically it is not used because it is inconvenient.

DWI: DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated. In some states the terms DWI and DUI are interchangeable but in Minnesota the two terms are used for two different charges. DWI is a criminal charge of driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or more. Above 0.08 is considered intoxicated according to Minnesota law.

DUI: DUI stands for Driving under the Influence. In Minnesota a person can be charged with DUI even if the blood alcohol content is under 0.08. Even a small, traceable amount of alcohol can result in a DUI charge.

Penalties: You may be wondering what potential penalties you are facing. First time DWI cases can include:

  • Fine up to $1,000.
  • Six month suspension of your driver’s license.
  • Up to three months of jail time.
  • Driving record will show DWI conviction which will affect any future traffic offenses.
  • Insurance premiums will increase significantly.
  • Prosecutors will aggressively approach your case even though it is only a first offense.

Options: To explore your options you should hire a knowledgeable Minnesota DWI attorney who will:

  • Explain the process to you.
  • Help you understand your best approach to dispute the charges against you.
  • Assist you in the license revocation hearing which will determine if your license will be suspended.
  • Review the circumstances of your arrest to determine if there are any weaknesses in the case against you.
  • Potentially negotiate an alternative penalty so you do not have to face jail time.

Grostyan & Associates has more than a decade of experience handling DWI cases. Contact us at at 612-341-6575 or email

by Anthony Grostyan

Categories: Criminal Defense, DWI