The holiday season of celebrations is over, but many drivers are still feeling the consequences after having too much to drink and then being pulled over. Impaired driving laws are an effort to keep everyone safe on the roads. Yet, driving while intoxicated still happens, and the consequences can be serious. You or someone you love may have even been pulled over while under the influence. It’s important to know what could happen and what you can do to protect your rights.

Minnesota’s Legal Limit — 0.08

Minnesota’s legal alcohol-concentration driving limit is 0.08 — but motorists can be arrested for DWI at lower levels. Even if you don’t “feel” impaired, the “per se” limit of 0.08 is all it takes.

If you are a first-time DWI offender, you could face potential jail time (as a misdemeanor, the maximum penalty is 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine) and loss of your driver’s license for a minimum of 30 days to up to a year. First-time offenders must also submit to a chemical dependency assessment.

A first DWI in ten years is a misdemeanor unless you refused the test, had a blood alcohol level of.16% or over or were driving a passenger younger than 16 in the vehicle. If any of these apply, the charge becomes a gross misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $3,000 fine.

Repeat DWI Offenders

Penalties for a second DWI in ten years include driver’s license revocation for one year. If the DWI involved refusing the alcohol test or you had a blood-alcohol level of .16% or more, the revocation period is increased to two years.  Under certain circumstances, a second-offense DWI may also result in vehicle forfeiture.

If you have a third DWI in ten years, your driver’s license can be canceled for three years. This requires you to enroll in the Ignition Interlock Program in order to get your license reinstated after the three years are up and you have fulfilled the rest of the reinstatement requirements. Other penalties include plate impoundment as well as the risk of forfeiture for the vehicle involved in the offense.

Plate Impoundment

Plate impoundment refers to the removal and surrender of a vehicle’s license plates. All vehicles in the offender’s name (including jointly owned vehicles) can have their plates impounded; To drive them again, the offender must apply for special registration plates, also known as “whiskey plates).

A DWI charge will cost you—as much as $20,000 when you add up bail, court costs, legal fees, criminal fines, and increased insurance premiums.

On the Road Again

To regain driving privileges, the offender must pay the driver’s license examination fee and pass the driver’s test. There will also be a DWI reinstatement fee and surcharge (totaling $680), and possible plate impoundment fees.

If you want to drive during the license revocation period, you have two options:

  • If your blood alcohol level was under .16%, after 15 days of revocation, you may apply for a limited license to drive to work, school, or treatment


  • Pay for installation of an ignition interlock device, as well as any continuing servicing, monitoring, and insurance costs. The Ignition interlock System is installed under the dashboard of the vehicle and connected to its starter. Users must provide a breath sample into the interlock with an alcohol concentration below 0.02 in order for the vehicle to start. Interlocks have anti-circumvention features and in-car cameras that record all breath tests. Video and test results are provided to DPS for monitoring.

What should you do?

A DWI offense can derail your life and negatively impact your family, your job, and your finances. You should have a legal team by your side to support you as you navigate the legal system and get your life back on track. If you have been charged with a DWI, we are here to help.  Send us a message today.

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