What You Need To Know About Minnesota Whiskey Plates 

If you’ve spent much time driving in Minnesota, you may have noticed a few vehicles that have plain white license plates with black or blue lettering, and the first letter is always W. These are commonly known as “whiskey plates.” They are specially issued plates that people are forced to put on their vehicles if they have been involved in certain DWI/DUI incidents in Minnesota.

What Is the Purpose of Whiskey Plates?

Some people think whiskey plates are somehow meant to embarrass a driver who has been convicted of drunk driving. That’s not really the case, though. The real purpose of whiskey plates is to benefit law enforcement. 

When an officer sees whiskey plates on a vehicle, it lets the office know that this driver has had a DWI incident before, and it is supposed to help raise the officer’s awareness of the driver’s risky behavior.

Being forced to register for whiskey plates is known as “plate impoundment.”

Can Cops Pull You Over Anytime if You Have Whiskey Plates?

Years ago, police were allowed to pull over whiskey-plated cars for no reason. The Minnesota Supreme Court finally put a stop to that. Today, police need probable cause to pull over a car with whiskey plates, just like any other vehicle. What tends to happen now is that cops might follow you around longer if you have whiskey plates, watching for you to make a minor traffic error that gives them a reason to pull you over.

What Kinds of DWI Charges Lead to Whiskey Plates IN MN?

In most cases, first-time DWI offenders will not need to register for whiskey plates. Instead, whiskey plates are reserved for certain drivers whose actions might be considered more serious or habitual. For example, Minnesota whiskey plates might be required if:

  • Your blood-alcohol content (BAC) was .16 or higher at the time of your arrest (even if this is a first-time offense)
  • Within the last 10 years you had a DWI or refused to submit to a blood, breath or urine test
  • You had a child age 16 or younger in your vehicle at the time of your DWI/DUI
  • You got a DWI while driving after your license was suspended, canceled or revoked

If Your Car Has Whiskey Plates, Can You Drive Another Car That Doesn’t Have Them?

If you are required to get whiskey plates, you must get them for any vehicle you own or intend to drive. That means your spouse’s car and your kids’ cars will need whiskey plates even though they didn’t get the DWI. 

If you got a DWI while driving a friend’s car, or any car that you don’t own, then the owner of that vehicle will likely be required to get whiskey plates. 

How Long Do Minnesota Whiskey Plates Stay On?

If whiskey plates are required in your situation, they must remain on the vehicle for one year, plus any additional time that you don’t have a valid license. If your license is able to stay valid because you participate in an ignition interlock program, you will still need whiskey plates for the first year of the program. 

Get Help Fighting DWI/DUI Charges to Avoid Changing Your MN Plates

Whiskey plates may be required if you are convicted of certain types of drunk driving crimes in Minnesota. You need to fight the charges to avoid it and to minimize other consequences, like jail time, fines, and license suspension. 

The DWI defense lawyers of White & Associates have helped hundreds of people fight their drunk driving charges in Minnesota. If you have been arrested, call our Elk River firm for a free consultation today at 763-241-0477 

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