DWI Courts in Minnesota: Eligibility, Processes, & Benefits

Group of people sitting in chairs in circle

DWI courts in Minnesota have been noted for their stunning success rates, particularly in terms of reducing recidivism. In fact, the state currently has 16 of them, and that number could grow in the coming years. In 2014, the Minnesota DPS released a study showing the primary benefits: $700,000 per year in taxpayer savings, a return of up to $3.19 for every one dollar invested in the program, a reduced recidivism rate of up to 69%, and completion rates far higher than the national average.

Who qualifies for Minnesota DWI courts?
Eligibility can often times range by county, but in most cases, attending a DWI court requires having been charged with multiple DWIs. In Ramsey County, for example, you have to be a resident of the county, have no record of violent criminal history, have been charged three or more times (alcohol-related conviction), and most importantly: Devoted to recovery so that you will not repeat another DWI offense.

What is the process like?
Attending a DWI court typically involves a number of stages. In Ramsey County, for example, one of the first steps in the process involves enrolling in a chemical dependency program after you’ve submitted a guilty plea. Once you’ve been sentenced, you’ll usually have your SCRAM bracelet removed (if you’ve been assigned to wear one). Home confinement may be required and you must stay sober. During the DWI court period, it’s required that you meet the standards set forth by the chemical dependency program. You’ll also likely be required to give presentations to others enrolled in the program highlighting the progress you’ve made. Once you’ve graduated, you will continue on with your assigned probation period until it’s been completed.

What are the benefits?
We noted the overall benefits – i.e. for the state and taxpayers, but more importantly, how do DWI courts benefit the individuals participating in the programs? In other words, why would someone enroll in this program instead of going through standard court procedures? DWI court programs typically provide the following benefits:

  • Reduced time for prison sentences
  • A potential reduction in fines
  • Mental health care and therapy
  • Social activities (i.e. connecting with other enrollees)
  • Transportation assistance

DWI Court Locations in Minnesota

Minnesota has a large number of DWI courthouses throughout the state:

Hennepin County – DWI Court
Hennepin County Government Center
300 South Sixth Street
Minneapolis, MN 55487
Contact: 612-596-9255

Ramsey County – DWI Court
Ramsey County Courthouse
15 West Kellogg Boulevard
St. Paul, MN 55102
Contact: 651-266-9277

Crow Wing County – DWI Court
Crow Wing County Judicial Center
213 Laurel St #11
Brainerd, MN 5640
Contact: 218-824-1310

Otter Trail County – DWI Court
Otter Trail County Courthouse
121 W. Junius Ave.
Fergus Falls, MN 56537

Roseau County – DWI Court
Roseau County Courthouse
606 5th Avenue SW, Room 20
Roseau, MN 56751
Contact: 218-463-2541

White Earth Nation/Becker County – DWI Court
Becker County Courthouse
913 Lake Ave.
Detroit Lakes, MN 56501
Contact: 218-846-7200 (ext 7245)

Beltrami County – DWI Court
Beltrami County Clerk-Court
600 Minnesota Ave NW # 108
Bemidji, MN 56601
Contact: (218) 333-4120

Crass County – DWI Court
Leech Lake Tribal Court
190 Sailstar Drive NW
Cass Lake, MN 56633
Contact: (218) 335-3682

Norman County – DWI Court
Norman County Courthouse
16 E 3rd Ave E
Ada, MN 56510
Contact: (218) 784-5458

Pennington County – DWI Court
Pennington County District Courthouse
101 Main Ave. N
Thief River Falls, MN 56701
Contact: (218) 683-7023

Polk County – DWI Court
Polk County Justice Center
816 Marin Ave, Suite 210
Crookston, MN 56716
Contact: (218) 281-2332

Red Lake County – DWI Court
Red Lake County Courthouse
124 Main Ave NW
Red Lake Falls, MN 56750
Contact: (218) 253-4281

Roseau County – DWI Court
Roseau County Courthouse
606 5th Ave. SW, Room 20
Roseau, MN 56751
Contact: (218) 468-2541

St. Louis County – DWI Court
Duluth Courthouse
100 North 5th Ave. W
Duluth, MN 55802-1285
Contact: (218) 726-2460

DWI courts in Minnesota are a great way to get the help you need, all while reducing the penalties that you would likely were you to go through the regular court process. For more information on DWI courts in Minnesota, read DWI Courts: A holistic approach to safer roads from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.