The Minnesota DWI Case Of The Week is State v. Miller (Decided June 26, 2017, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Unpublished) which stands for the proposition that a court cannot order a stay of imposition of sentence in a DWI case.
In Miller, the Defendant pled guilty to felony DWI and the presumptive sentence for this offense was a stay of execution of 42 months in prison. Before sentencing, Miller filed an informal letter brief, moving the district court to stay imposition of the presumptive sentence. The state opposed Miller's request, arguing that Minn. Stat. § 169A.276, subd. 1(b), prohibited a stay of imposition of a sentence for first-degree DWI offenses.
At the sentencing hearing, the district court stayed imposition of Miller's sentence, ordered him to serve a staggered jail sentence of 300 days, and placed him on probation for seven years. In its order, the district court acknowledged that this sentence was prohibited by Minn. Stat. § 169.276, but stated, "It is not the role of the legislature to mandate sentences to the courts."
Apparently, the Court of Appeals disagreed as they reversed the stay of imposition, noting:
"The legislature is vested with the power to define criminal conduct and to determine the punishment for such conduct, including providing for mandatory sentences. This power includes setting 'the limits of discretion vested in the courts in the imposition of the sentence.' The judiciary is vested with the power to impose the final sentence for a criminal violation 'within the limits prescribed by the legislature'."
"Miller argues that Minn Stat. §§609.135 (2014) and 609.11, subd. 8(a) (2014), authorize a district court to stay imposition of a sentence in this case. Section 609.135 provides that except "when a mandatory minimum sentence is required by section 609.11, any court may stay imposition or execution of sentence." Minn. Stat. § 609.135, subd. 1(a). Because a mandatory minimum sentence under section 609.11 is not required here, Miller contends that the statute authorized the district court to stay imposition of his sentence."
"But chapter 169A contains specific provisions regarding mandatory sentencing for DWI offenses. Indeed, a person convicted of first-degree DWI is "subject to the mandatory penalties described in section 169A.276." Minn. Stat. § 169A.24, subd. 2. Section 169A.276 provides that the mandatory minimum sentence for first-degree DWI is imprisonment for not less than three years. Minn. Stat. § 169A.276, subd. 1(a). 'The court may stay execution of this mandatory sentence . . ., but may not stay imposition or adjudication of the sentence or impose a sentence that has a duration of less than three years.'"
"Here, the more specific statute is section 169A.276, subdivision 1(b), because it expressly addresses felony-level DWI sentences. In contrast, section 609.135, subdivision 1(a), which authorizes a stay of imposition of sentence, applies when a mandatory minimum sentence is not required by section 609.11. But section 609.11, subdivision 8(a), states that it applies only to "mandatory minimum sentences established by this section," which are specific to dangerous weapon, firearm, and drug offenses. Minn. Stat. § 609.11, subds. 4-5a (2014). We conclude that section 609.135 does not apply to sentencing for convictions of felony DWI offenses and chapter 169A exclusively governs sentencing of DWI offenses."
"The plain language of section 169A.276 limits a district court's discretion and prohibits a district court from staying imposition of sentence for this offense. Thus, we reject Miller's argument that the district court had discretion to stay imposition of sentence."
Moral Of The Story: If you manage to get convicted of four dwi's in 10 years, you are going to forever have a felony conviction on your record.
If you or a loved one have been arrested for a Minnesota DWI, or are facing a DWI forfeiture of your motor vehicle, feel free to contact Minneapolis DWI Lawyer, F. T. Sessoms at (612) 344-1505 for answers to all of your Minnesota DWI questions.