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Frequently Asked Questions About Minnesota Whiskey Plates & DWI

If you do not work in law enforcement and have never had a DUI, you might not ever know what whiskey plates are, and that’s for the best. However, if you live in Minnesota then it is likely that you have at least seen them while driving the roadways.  The term whiskey plate is used to describe a special license plate that those involved in certain DWI incidents in Minnesota will be forced to use on their vehicles. They are plain white with blue or black lettering and the plate number always begins with a W, leading to the term “whiskey” plates.

What Do Whiskey Plates Do?

The idea of whiskey plates are not for simple humiliation of a driver. In fact, most drivers don’t even know the difference between a whiskey plate and a regular license plate. The true purpose of whiskey plates are for law enforcement. Cars with these plates are considered of special interest. It signifies that you have been in DWI incident before and are at risk for it again.

While there was a time that the simple act of having whiskey plates meant police could pull you over at their will, the Supreme Court has since put rules in place that even drivers with whiskey plates still have to display probable cause in order to be stopped. Unfortunately, if you drive with whiskey plates, you will find that police officers show distinctly more interest in following your vehicle around.

What DWI Charges Result in Whiskey Plate?

If you are a first time DWI offender, most likely you will not have to register for whiskey plates. You only need to register for them if you commit any of the following:

  • You had a blood-alcohol content of double the legal limit (.16) at the time of your DWI arrest.
  • You had a DWI or refused a blood, urine, or breath test for the second time in a ten year span.
  • You committed a DWI with a child 16 years or younger in the vehicle.
  • You are arrested for a DWI after a cancellation, suspension, or revocation of your license.

Can You Drive Another Car With Whiskey Plates?

You cannot drive another vehicle without whiskey plates, and will be arrested if caught. When registering, you will need to disclose and get plates for any vehicle that you intend on driving or have ownership of. This will include a spouse’s car or a friend’s car that you are presently using. They will be forced to get plates even though they did not commit the DWI.

How Long Do You Have to Use Whiskey Plates?

Whiskey plates will need to be used for a minimum of one year. This means one year from the impoundment order for the DWI. After that day, you can apply for new registration plates. This includes spouses and friend’s cars involved in the DWI, but with primary drivers not responsible for it. If you were the primary owner and the offender, you will first need to get a valid driver’s license from Minnesota after your DWI as well.

Need Help?

Have you been pulled over for a second or otherwise elevated DWI in Minnesota? You don’t want to face the enhanced punishment for it and you definitely don’t want to suffer the shame of driving around with whiskey plates. This is why you need to fight DWI charges, and to do that, you need the help of a skilled attorney. If facing an elevated DWI in the Minneapolis area, contact us today and let the Segal Defense team defend your rights and make sure you get the results that you desire.

The information presented in this article is not considered legal advice. Please contact our law office to speak to an attorney about your case.