The act of driving after consuming drugs or alcohol in Minnesota is called Driving While Intoxicated or DWI. Like DUI in other states, DWI in Minnesota carries with it a variety of civil and legal penalties that can be costly and damaging to a person’s driving record.
Unlike other states, Minnesota uses the same laws for both adult and underage drivers. People who plan to drive in Minnesota can benefit by knowing what constitutes a DWI in this state and how the state’s courts punish this crime.
DWI in Minnesota
Minnesota defines DWI as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It also categorizes DWI as driving a motor vehicle while knowingly being under the influence of a hazardous substance that affects the body and substantially impairs a person’s driving abilities.
The per se definition of DWI in Minnesota is having a blood alcohol content or BAC of 0.08 percentor higher. It extends to having any amount of Schedule I or II drugs in the body with the exception of marijuana.
Minnesota also allows for a DWI to be charged as an aggravated offense if it meets certain criteria. The requirements for an aggravated DWI in the state include:
- Having a prior DWI charge within the last 10 years
- Driving with a BAC of 0.16 percent or higher
- Driving while intoxicated with a passenger under the age of 16 in the car
- Driving while intoxicated with a suspended or revoked license
Minnesota has a washout or look back period of 10 years. DWIs committed more than 10 years ago cannot be considered when factoring in penalties for current DWI charges.
DWI Penalties in Minnesota
A first DWI conviction in Minnesota is a misdemeanor and results in a fine of up to $1000 and a jail sentence of up to 90 days. It also leads to a revocation of one’s license for 90 days.
At the court’s discretion, the driver can have his or her vehicle and license plate forfeited. The driver may also have to submit to chemical use assessments and treatment and submit an SR22 to the state. He or she can get full driving privileges reinstated by agreeing to use an ignition interlock device on his or her vehicle.
A second DWI conviction is a gross misdemeanor and results in penalties like
- A fine of $3000
- 30 days in jail
- One-year license revocation
- License plate and vehicle forfeiture
The offender also will have to submit to an addiction assessment and treatment, use an IID, and submit an SR22 to the state.
A third DWI conviction is also a gross misdemeanor and carries with it similar penalties. The jail term for a third offense is 90 days, and the license revocation period is three years.
A fourth conviction for DWI in Minnesota is a felony and punished more harshly. The fine can go as high as $14,000 while the license revocation period can be as long as six years.
The jail term can also range from one to seven years with a mandatory five-year condition release afterward. The defendant will also have to use an IID, submit to an assessment and treatment for the addiction and submit an SR22 to the state. Five or more DWI convictions in Minnesota are also felonies and include the same penalties as a fourth conviction.
Implied Consent in Minnesota
Like most states, Minnesota uses an implied consent law to compel drivers to submit to chemical testing if law enforcement has due cause to detain them for DWI. Refusing to submit to testing puts the driver in peril of incurring civil and administrative fines.
The loss of one’s license correlates with the number of times within the last 10 years that the driver has refused chemical testing. The first refusal results in a license suspension of one year while a second refusal leads to a two-year suspension, and so on. All refusals are punished with mandatory installation at the driver’s expense of an ignition interlock device or IID to restore his or her full driving privileges.
Underage DWI in Minnesota
Minnesota treats drivers who are 16 and 17 years of age as adults when it comes to DWI convictions. They incur the same penalties as adult drivers and face the same jail sentences and SR22 requirements.
Drivers who are 15 and younger are treated as juveniles and prosecuted as major highway traffic offenders. They can have their licenses revoked for up to 180 days. If they are not licensed, their DWI conviction as teenagers can negatively impact their ability to obtain a learner’s permit, restricted drivers’ license or full drivers’ license in the future.
Driving while intoxicated in Minnesota is an offense that is met with severe legal and civil penalties. Drivers of all ages can incur punishments that put them behind bars and cost them hundreds or thousands in fines.
Underage drivers do not benefit from lax laws because of their age. They receive the same penalties as adults if they are 16 and older.