In Minnesota, you can be convicted of a DWI, or driving while intoxicated, if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeding .08 percent. Minnesota has a zero tolerance policy for drunk driving under the legal age, so if you are younger than 21 years of age, the minimum BAC required to be convicted of a DWI is technically .00 percent.
Minnesota’s Implied Consent Law
Like most states, Minnesota DWI laws include an implied consent law. Simply by driving on a Minnesota road, you have already given your consent to be chemically tested if you are pulled over by an officer who has probable cause to believe you are driving while intoxicated. Therefore, should you refuse to take a chemical test, your driver’s license will be revoked for a period of one year. Consequently, it is best to simply consent to a chemical test.
Penalties for DWI
The first time you are convicted of a DWI in Minnesota, you could serve up to 90 days in jail, but there is no minimum jail time required. You will be subjected to a $1,000 fine, and your driver’s license will be suspended from 90 days to a year, depending on the details of the case. You will also later have to pay hundreds of dollars in fees to have your driver’s license reinstated.
A second conviction for DWI will get you up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $3,000. Your license will be suspended from between 180 to 360 days. Your license plate will be impounded for a year, and you will be issued a special, coded plate instead – the “scarlet letter” of DWI. The same costly fees apply to have your license reinstated.
For a third conviction, most of the same penalties apply as for a second DWI, according to Minnesota DWI laws, except that your license will be indefinitely suspended until you have gone to a treatment program and abstained from alcohol for one year.
In Minnesota, a fourth DWI conviction, known as a “first-degree DWI,” rises to the level of a felony. You can go to jail for up to seven years and may be required to pay a fine of up to $14,000.
Previous DWIs will be relevant in your sentencing for a “lookback” period of 10 years. So, if you are convicted of your first DWI in 2020 and of another in 2031, the second conviction will be sentenced as if it were merely a first offense because more than 10 years will have passed between convictions.
Changes in Minnesota DWI Laws
Minnesota DWI laws have grown stricter in recent years. In 2010, Minnesota passed a law requiring drivers convicted of a DWI to have an interlock ignition device installed on their cars. This device prevents the driver from starting the car if he or she does not first pass a breath test. You can refuse to have this device installed, but if you do, your driving rights will be completely revoked for one to six years.
What Is The Legal Alcohol Limit In Minnesota?
In the state of Minnesota, as in the rest of the U.S., the legal alcohol limit is .08 percent. Having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at this level or higher can result in driving while impaired (DWI) charges being filed.
The legal alcohol limit in Minnesota applies to passenger drivers over the age of 21. Additional BAC distinctions are made within DWI statutes to account for other classes of motorists, including:
- Individuals under 21. People not of legal drinking age can be arrested on DWI charges after registering a BAC above .00 percent, any trace of alcohol legally justifying punishment.
- Drivers of commercial vehicles. Individuals operating semis, buses and other types of commercial vehicles may be arrested and charged with driving while impaired upon submitting a breath or blood sample that registers .04 percent or greater.
Aggravated DWI offenses typically kick in at a BAC level of .20 percent. A person with this level of alcohol in his or her system may receive enhanced penalties if convicted. Additional factors can contribute to aggravated charges being filed, for instance, driving while impaired with a child under the age of 16.
Ignition Interlock Requirements In Minnesota
An ignition interlock device (IID) is a piece of equipment about the size of a mobile phone that wires into a vehicle. This IID requires a person to provide a passing breath test before vehicle will start.
Ignition interlock devices are used throughout the U.S. to curb DWI-related deaths. In Minnesota:
- A DWI conviction with a BAC of .16 percent or higher requires IID installation.
- All people with repeat DWI offenses must have a device installed.
Ignition interlock devices must be put in by a state-approved vendor. All costs related to an IID’s installation and servicing are paid by the convicted individual.
Minnesota DWI Penalties
Drivers in Minnesota can be charged with a DWI if their blood alcohol concentration or BAC is .08 percent or higher regardless of whether or not their driving is actually impaired. For drivers under 21, any amount of alcohol is enough for a DWI charge. The law in Minnesota also states that anybody who is in control of a moving a parked motor vehicle has given consent to submitting to a test to determine their BAC. Those who refuse to submit to such a test can have their driver’s licenses revoked for one year.
Driving while intoxicated is obviously a very serious charge throughout the United States, and Minnesota is no exception. Every year, over 30,000 people are arrested for DWI, and depending on their driving records and the circumstances of their arrest, they may face harsh Minnesota DWI penalties.
Drivers who are charged with a DWI in Minnesota face both criminal penalties and administrative sanctions. A first offense is considered either a misdemeanor or a gross misdemeanor depending on several issues. A BAC of under .20 percent is a misdemeanor and carries a penalty of 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. If there is a child in the car, the charge is upgraded to a gross misdemeanor that can result in one year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine. This penalty also applies to drivers who have a BAC of more than .20 percent. If the driver has a BAC of .16 percent with a child in the vehicle, the vehicle can be forfeited. A refusal to take a test to determine one’s BAC can result in one year in prison.
On the administrative side, a driver can have his or her license revoked for 90 days if their BAC is under 0.16 percent. This can be reduced to 30 days with a guilty plea of DWI. If the driver’s BAC is higher than 0.16, their license can be revoked for one year. If a child is in the car, the vehicle can be forfeited and its license plates can be impounded.
Second and Third Offenses
The Minnesota DWI penalties faced for a second DWI offense are much like those faced for a first offense. The only major difference is that driving privileges can be revoked for up to two years for drivers with a BAC of over 0.16 percent. The vehicle’s license places are also impounded.
A third offense carries most of the same criminal offenses as the first and second offenses. The only major difference is that the driver can be charged with a DWI if they have any amount of alcohol in their system. The driver’s license is also cancelled as “inimical to public safety.”
A fourth DWI is considered a felony in the state of Minnesota that can result in a seven-year prison sentence and/or a $14,000 fine. This applies to any additional offenses as well.
In order to be charged with a felony DWI in Minnesota, a driver must have had his or her fourth DWI conviction within 10 years of their most recent offense, have been charged with a felony DWI before or have had a previous felony conviction involving an impaired-driving offense like criminal vehicular homicide or injury. Maximum penalties for these offenses include a 10-year prison sentence and/or a fine of $20,000.
Drunk Driving Facts