DWI Laws in Minnesota



According to MN State Statue 169A.03, Minnesota’s DWI law stipulates that it is a crime: 1) to drive, operate, or be in control of any motor vehicle anywhere in the state while: under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or (knowingly) a hazardous substance, or any combination of these; having an alcohol concentration (AC) of .08 (.08 means .08 percent alcohol concentration, which is 8/10,000ths by volume) or more at the time or within two hours of doing so; having any amount or the metabolites of a schedule I or II controlled substance, other than marijuana, in the body; or if the vehicle is a commercial motor vehicle, having an alcohol concentration of .04 or more at the time or within two hours of doing so; or

2) to refuse to submit to a chemical test of the person’s blood, breath, or urine under Minnesota Statutes, section 169A.52 (implied consent law).

Criminal penalties upon conviction for DWI are tiered, as follows:

Fourth-Degree DWI – misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days of jail and a$1,000 fine (for the person’s first impaired driving violation within ten years without test refusal or any aggravating factors).

Third-Degree DWI – a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year of jail and a $3,000 fine (for the person’s second impaired driving violation within ten years or first such violation with test refusal or another aggravating factor).

Second-Degree DWI – also a gross misdemeanor (for the person’s third impaired driving violation within ten years or second such violation with test refusal or one other aggravating factor, or first such violation with two aggravating factors).

First-Degree DWI – felony, punishable by up to seven years’ imprisonment and a $14,000 fine (for the person’s fourth impaired driving violation within ten years or anytime following a previous felony DWI or criminal vehicular operation conviction; other aggravating factors are not considered).

Aggravating Factor

This includes:

a qualified prior impaired driving incident within the preceding ten years; an alcohol concentration of .20 or more upon arrest (but not for first-degree DWI); and the presence of a child under age 16 in the vehicle, if more than 36 months younger than the offender (but not for first-degree DWI).

Qualified Prior Impaired Driving Incident

This includes both:

prior impaired driving convictions; and prior impaired driving-related losses of license (implied consent revocations) or operating privileges for separate driving incidents within the preceding ten years involving any kind of motor vehicle, including passenger motor vehicle, school bus or Head Start bus, commercial motor vehicle, airplane, snowmobile, all terrain vehicle, off-road recreational vehicle, or motorboat in operation.

Penalties

There are two agencies involved with a convicted impaired driver, the Court system and the Department of Motor Vehicles.  The difference between the two systems is that the Court will hold the impaired driver accountable for breaking a law.  The Department of Motor Vehicles will hold the impaired driver accountable civilly because it is a privilege to drive a motorized vehicle.

Depending on the offense one is convicted of, there are a number of sanctions the Court will order the impaired offender to complete.  Generally, a person convicted of impaired driving will be placed on probation supervision and have to complete some or all of the following conditions; serve time in jail, pay a court fine, probation fee, attend a Victim Impact Panel (otherwise known as “Mothers Against Drunk Driving”), complete a chemical dependency evaluation and follow all recommendations, remain law abiding and have no same or similar offense, attend Alcoholics Anonymous and attend an educational or chemical dependency treatment program regarding impaired driving.

Again depending on the conviction, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will also impose sanctions prior to reinstating driving privileges.  The DMV may require some or all of the following conditions; attend a Victim Impact Panel (M.A.D.D.), pay a reinstatement fine, attend an educational and chemical dependency treatment program and attend Alcoholics Anonymous.

Regaining driving privileges

If the impaired driver completes all of the requirements for the DMV but cannot get their drivers license reinstated because they have to wait a certain time period prior to reinstatement, the individual can apply for and utilize the Minnesota Ignition Interlock program, administered by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services.

The Ignition Interlock program gives the DWI offender an opportunity to drive, while ensuring public safety. The handheld breathalyzer device is installed in every vehicle the DWI offender owns and requires the driver to provide a breath prior to the vehicle starting.  If alcohol is detected the vehicle will not function.

The cost of the program ranges from $60-$125 per month. Installation fees and removal fees range from $100-$150