Driving while intoxicated in the State of Minnesota is a serious crime, with serious repercussions. If you or a loved one has been charged with DWI in Minnesota, you probably have a lot of questions about what the charges mean, their penalties, and what happens next.
In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the most frequently asked questions about Minnesota DWI laws:
1. What Constitutes a DWI in Minnesota?
Driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more or having any amount of (or the metabolites of) a schedule I or II controlled substance other than marijuana in the body will give rise to DWI charges.
Drivers under the age of 21 may face DWI charges with blood alcohol levels of less than 0.08, and for drivers operating commercial vehicles, the threshold blood alcohol concentration is lowered to 0.04.
2. Is DWI Considered a Felony or a Misdemeanor Charge in Minnesota?
Treatment of a DWI charge as a felony, gross misdemeanor or a misdemeanor depends on a number of factors.
Generally speaking, a driver convicted of a first offense with a blood alcohol concentration level of less than 0.16 will be charged with a misdemeanor.
However, driving while intoxicated will result in a gross misdemeanor charge if there was a minor child in the vehicle at the time of the offense, even if the driver’s blood alcohol concentration was under 0.16.
For first offenses with blood alcohol concentrations of 0.16 or greater, or first offenses in which the driver refused blood alcohol concentration testing, and for all second and third offenses, drivers will typically face gross misdemeanor charges.
A fourth (or greater) DWI in ten years will result in felony charges.
3. This is my First Offense. What Penalties am I Facing?
DWI charges carry both criminal and administrative penalties, which will depend on blood alcohol concentration levels, whether a minor child was in the vehicle, and whether the driver refused blood alcohol testing.
Criminal penalties for a first offense can include jail time (from 90 days to one year) and/or monetary fines from $1,000 – $3,000.
Administrative penalties for a first offense may include a loss of driving privileges from 30 days to one year (which may be reduced by, or run concurrently with, a period of using an ignition interlock system), impounded license plates, and in some cases, forfeiting vehicles.
For subsequent offenses, penalties increase in amount and severity.
4. What is the Ignition Interlock Device?
Ignition interlock is a device installed in a driver’s vehicle that requires the driver to provide a breath sample (proving they are not intoxicated) in order to start a vehicle.
For a first offense when the driver’s blood alcohol concentration was under 0.16, using an ignition interlock device can mean no driving privileges are lost. For other offenses, ignition interlock can provide an alternative to a complete loss of driving privileges by allowing some restricted privileges, allowing the driver to continue working.
Fitted with both a breathing tube and a camera, the device is designed to ensure that the driver does not try to circumvent the requirements by having a passenger provide a breath sample.
Some drivers will be required to use ignition interlock for a period of up to six years before having full driving privileges reinstated.
Conclusion on Minnesota DWI Basics
Driving under the influence of controlled substances, or driving while intoxicated is a serious crime. Contacting a criminal defense lawyer who has experience with DWI charges is one of the most important first steps you can take; an attorney will be able to review your specific situation and provide legal advice for your defense.
While the information provided in this blog post is not, and should not be considered, legal advice, we hope you found it informative.
To learn more, or if you or a loved one has been charged with driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.