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What You Need to Know About DWI Laws In Minnesota

DWI offenses in Minnesota can lead to a variety of penalties, some of which are harsh but relatively short-term, while others are definitive, long-term changes to the basics of daily life for years at a time.

Not all DWI/DUI charges in Minnesota carry flat penalties, however. Many can be pleaded down to minimum fines and sentences, and there is room for even those living under revoked licenses to regain their ability to drive under strict circumstances.

It’s important to know the basics of Minnesota DWI/DUI law; and more importantly, to work with an attorney that regularly practices in this area, to make sure you receive the best possible representation and end up with the fairest final result in your case.

DUI/DWI Laws in Minnesota

Nationwide, about 40% of all motor vehicle fatalities involve alcohol or another form of recreational impairment, a rate that matches with these incidents in Minnesota. That means Minnesota courts are particularly slanted towards harsh punishments for infractions when driving under the influence.

Like most U.S. states, the legal blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is 0.08%. However, there are several major caveats in Minnesota:

  • Depending on the circumstances, law enforcement can charge you with a DWI even if you test below 0.08%, at their discretion.
  • If you’re driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the infraction, the limit is lowered to 0.04%.
  • If you are under the age of 21, any BAC level results in an alcohol infraction.

Minnesota Criminal Penalties Are Relatively Harsh

DUI/DWI infractions are not federal offenses, so each state has varying penalties. Minnesota is on the higher end of this spectrum.

There are automatic misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor charges that go into effect for particularly high BAC.

For first infractions under 0.16%, the charge is an immediate misdemeanor, with up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

For a BAC over 0.16%, there is an immediate gross misdemeanor charge, with a maximum of one year in jail, and/or a $3,000 fine.

Refusing to Take a BAC Test

In Minnesota, you have the right to refuse taking a BAC test. However, in signing the dotted line to receive your license, you have previously agreed to the attached penalty for refusing this request: Up to 1 year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine, matched with a gross misdemeanor charge.

Refusing the test may avoid giving the evidence for your BAC in a potential DUI/DWI charge, but in Minnesota the penalty may be harsher than if you simply agreed to the test.

Administrative Penalties In Minnesota

For a BAC under 0.16%, first offenders face a 90 day revocation of their license. However, they can petition for full driving privileges with an ignition interlock device that tests their BAC, or for a full 15 days without driving and a limited license for the remainder of the 90 days.

For infractions above 0.16%, the result is a 1 year license suspension, or 1 year of restricted driving with the aforementioned ignition interlock system.

Find a DUI/DWI Attorney As Soon As Possible

To receive the benefits of the lower end penalties listed above, legal representation will gather character evidence, anything relevant about the incident itself, and a myriad of other helpful information to present on your behalf.

Minnesota courts are not known for their friendliness towards these cases. It takes a vigorous defense to make sure even first offenders receive minimum penalties.

And in the very best cases, removing misdemeanor charges or even a full Not Guilty decision are possible. Without experienced representation, you can’t be sure if the result was truly the fairest outcome possible.

The circumstances of your case are relevant. An attorney with DUI/DWI experience will represent you with the best defense they can, as the constitution guarantees you. Contact the DUI/DWI specialists at Segal Defense, P.A. to discuss your case.

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