The past few months here in Minnesota have witnessed two large efforts to crack down on drunk drivers. Here’s what you need to know to remain current on DUI laws and enforcements efforts.
Updated Gross Misdemeanor DUI Law
A gross misdemeanor DUI, or mid-level DUI, kicks in at a lower blood alcohol content (BAC) level now due to changes in the law that kicked in on August 1, 2015. Prior to August 1, the BAC level to meet or exceed for a gross misdemeanor was .20. It is now .16.
While the .04 drop sounds insignificant, early estimations show it may cause a potential 71% increase gross misdemeanor DWIs. The jump from misdemeanor to gross misdemeanor also means increased penalties:
- $3,000 in fines (versus $1,000)
- Up to 1 year in jail (versus up to 90 days)
- Up to 1 year of lost driving privileges (versus up to 90 days)
Drivers with DWI convictions may be able to retain their driving privileges, but only if they agree to the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID). An IID requires the driver to give breath tests every time they want to use their car.
Another costly difference that kicks in at the gross misdemeanor level is that a driver must post up to a $12,000 bail to get out of jail. These costs and related consequences can break a person—especially a driver facing a first-time DWI offense.
Extra Labor Day DUI Enforcement
Not long after the new BAC level kicked in, the Office of Traffic Safety instituted an enhanced DWI enforcement campaign. This campaign ran from August 21 through September 7. The results:
- 1,521 DWI arrests
- 5 traffic deaths involving alcohol
- Many drivers with BAC levels multiple times over the legal limit
Why You Should Care
Minnesota is focused on eliminating all traffic deaths. As 1 in 5 traffic deaths occur in alcohol-related crashes, all drivers who choose to drive even after just one drink are at risk of traffic stops and DWI citations. It is important that you remain up-to-date on what the state law enforcement agencies are doing. And, should you find yourself facing a DWI conviction in Minnesota, reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Sources: Minnesota stiffens penalties for mid-level DWIs, Star Tribune; Press Release, Office of Communications, Minnesota Department of Public Safety