What is a DWI in Minnesota?
A DWI in Minnesota refers to the act of driving while impaired or under the influence of alcohol and other inebriating substances. In Minnesota, the term DWI is used as an alternative to DUI. A DWI occurs when a motorist operates a vehicle after ingesting alcohol or other intoxicating substances. Minnesota's DWI statutes are compiled under Chapter 169A of the state's traffic regulations.
The state's judicial authority typically prosecutes road users found guilty of violating Minnesota impaired driving regulations. Minnesota courts are tasked with allocating penalties to motorists apprehended or detained by law enforcement personnel. The penalties ascribed to offenders vary depending on the severity of the crime and the offender's driving history. Minnesota DWI penalties range from fines, probation, and jail time to other rehabilitative measures such as alcohol abuse treatment and counseling. Following a DWI conviction, offenders will likely lose insurance coverage or have increased premiums. Records of DWI offenses are also likely to be featured in the offender's Minnesota criminal record, depending on the offense's severity.
What is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI in Minnesota?
While the terms DUI and DWI are both used to refer to drunk or intoxicated driving offenses in Minnesota, there is a distinction between both terms. A DUI charge indicates that the offending motorist was intoxicated by alcohol. However, DWI is an umbrella term for driving while under the influence of any intoxicating substance. In Minnesota, when a motorist has a BAC of above 0.08 and does not exhibit the typical signs of drunkenness, the arresting officer may still proceed to arrest and prosecute the offender.
Minnesota DWI Laws
Like most U.S. states, Minnesota road safety laws require motorists to refrain from operating a vehicle if they have an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher (or 0.04 if the vehicle is commercial). According to Chapter 169A of the revised Minnesota state statutes, inebriated motorists found operating or sitting in the driver's seat of a car will be arrested and prosecuted for a DWI. This law also applies to persons operating a motorboat, a snowmobile, and various other kinds of vehicles.
Under 169A.51 and 169A.52, motorists are required to submit to a chemical test upon the request of law enforcement agents. The test, in this case, could be a breath analysis or blood and urine testing for intoxicating substances. Since Minnesota operates the implied consent law, motorists who refuse a breath, blood, or urine analysis will be penalized according to the provisions of 164A.24 through 169A.27 of the state's road safety statutes.
The state of Minnesota also operates an Ignition Interlock Law, which requires selected offenders to use an ignition interlock for some time, depending on the nature and severity of their offense.
DWI Penalties in Minnesota
There are a variety of penalties issued to DWI offenders in Minnesota. These punishments may be criminal penalties or administrative sanctions, depending on the severity of the DWI. In Minnesota, motorists convicted of a DWI may expect to face administrative sanctions such as license revocation that may last anywhere from 90 days to 6 years. However, the defendant may appeal the license revocation with the state DPS or court.
Other administrative penalties include license plate impoundment, vehicle forfeiture, and limited and restricted licenses. License plates can be impounded for up to a year, and Minnesota DWI laws allow the arresting officer to seize the vehicle. However, the forfeiture is administrative unless, within 60 days, the owner files for a judicial determination of the forfeiture.
Individuals whose licenses have been revoked may be eligible for a temporary or conditional permit depending on their offense. Limited or restricted licenses allow the offender to drive specific vehicles for work-related, mental-health based or educational functions. In some cases, these vehicles have to be equipped with an ignition interlock to be operated by the offending party.
DWI offenders found guilty of criminal vehicular operations leading to manslaughter, fatal injuries, or bodily harm are usually charged with a gross misdemeanor or felony depending on the extent of the damage caused. Offenders in this category face up to 20 years in prison and fines ranging from $3,000 to $20,000.
What Happens When You Get A DWI For The First Time In Minnesota?
When a motorist is arrested for a DWI for the first time in Minnesota, they may be taken into custody by law enforcement and prosecuted subsequently.
Where the offender has an alcohol concentration of under 0.16, they are likely to be charged with a misdemeanor and issued a $1000 fine and/or 90 days in jail. The administrative sanctions for a misdemeanor include a 30 to 90-day license suspension depending on the defendant's plea during prosecution.
If the offender has an alcohol concentration of under 0.16 and has a child in the vehicle or simply has a BAC of 0.16 or over, they are charged with a gross misdemeanor. The penalties for a gross misdemeanor include a $3000 fine or a minimum of one year in jail, plus up to 90 days of no driving privileges and impounded plates. Depending on a variety of other factors, offenders in this category may also face up to 1 year of no driving privileges, impounded license plates, restricted driver's license or ignition interlock, as well as forfeited vehicles.
First-time DWI offenders in Minnesota who refuse a chemical test are likely to be issued additional penalties, including a minimum of 1 year in jail and/or a year of no driving privileges.
What is the Penalty for a Second DWI in Minnesota?
Second-time DWI offenders in Minnesota are charged with a gross misdemeanor. The penalties for second-time offenders with any alcohol concentration level include a minimum of one year in jail and up to $3,000 in fines.
Offenders with an alcohol concentration of under 0.16 and those who refuse to submit themselves to a chemical test may be penalized with at least one year of no driving privileges or ignition interlock, impounded license plates, and in selected cases, vehicle forfeiture. With an alcohol concentration of 0.16 or over, second-time offenders face similar penalties for twice the length of time. However, if there is a minor in the vehicle at the time of the offense, the penalties will vary depending on the offender's blood alcohol level, the nature of their previous crimes, and the prerogative of the prosecuting judge.
What Happens After a Third DWI in Minnesota?
After a third DWI in Minnesota, offenders can expect to face up to one year in jail and/or a fine of no less than $3,000, especially where the offender refuses to submit themselves for chemical testing. Other administrative sanctions for three-time DWI offenders include license cancellation, a minimum of 3 years of ignition interlock use, impounded license plates, and vehicle forfeiture. In this case, the ignition interlock device will be removed if, in three years, there is no detected use of alcohol or drugs on the offender's part.
Individuals convicted of a DWI four or more times within 10 years are typically deemed guilty of a felony offense. The penalties, in this case, include up to 7 years in prison and a minimum of $14,000 in fines. The offender's license may also be canceled, and they may be mandated to use an ignition interlock device for 4-6 years in addition to vehicle forfeiture or having their license plates impounded.
How Long Does a DWI Stay on Your Record in Minnesota?
When a motorist is convicted of a DWI in Minnesota, details of their offense and consequent penalties are included in their criminal and driving records. Since violations within the offender's subsequent 10-year history are considered during their prosecution, repeat offenders may have difficulty expunging DWI offenses in Minnesota. However, if an individual remains offense-free for ten years, details of their DWI may be removed from their record with relative ease.
The length of time a DWI stays on an offender's record may also vary depending on the nature of their offense and the offender's history. For instance, individuals convicted of a fourth-degree DWI may seek expungement two years after their conviction. DWI offenses considered gross misdemeanors may be expunged four years after the initial sentence was discharged. However, if the DWI was deemed a felony, the offense will never be expunged, no matter the circumstance.
DWI Expungement in Minnesota
According to Minnesota Statute Section 609A.03, state courts may expunge DWI offenses from an individual's criminal or driving record, provided they satisfy the state's eligibility requirements. In expunging a DWI, the court will consider a variety of factors, including; the nature and severity of the crime, the rehabilitation of the offender, and the reasons for expungements.
Persons who meet the state's eligibility requirements for expungement may petition the court to have their DWI expunged. The requestor must mail a copy of the expungement petition and the proposed expungement order to the prosecution. Before the petition can be processed, the petitioner must also notify individuals, agencies, or establishments that may be impacted by the expungement of the offense from their record. If all the court's requirements are met with no debilitating objections from the prosecution or other persons, the expungement request will be granted.
How Likely is Jail Time After a First DWI in Minnesota?
In Minnesota, first-time DWI offenders are not likely to be sentenced to jail time. However, offenders who the court fines may opt to serve jail time as an alternative to paying the amount. Motorists remanded in custody after being apprehended by law enforcement at the time of the offense will be released on bail depending on the nature and severity of the offense.
What is the Average Cost of DWI in Minnesota?
The average cost of a DWI in Minnesota can range anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000. Convicted DWI offenders can rack up hundreds of dollars in fines, legal expenses, and fees while resolving a DWI. Depending on the severity of the offense and the court-imposed penalties, there may be other indirect costs resulting from the DWI, including increased insurance premiums, alternative transportation, and license reinstatement fees. The cost breakdown of a DWI may be as follows:
- Cost of Impound/Towing: Motorists may be required to pay between $100 to $200 in towing fees; this is in addition to almost $200 to cover impound costs.
- Court-imposed Fines: First-time offenders may be issued fines of up to $1000. However, depending on the severity of the crime and the motorist's criminal/driving history, the offender may be fined up to $30,000.
- Cost of installing Ignition Interlock Devices: Where the offender is authorized to install an ignition interlock device, they will spend nearly $150 per month for the entire period that the device is installed.
- Cost of License Reinstatement: If the offender's license is suspended following their conviction, they will be charged approximately $1000 to have the license reinstated, including the cost of additional surcharges.
- Court-mandated therapy or treatment fees: As part of an offender's prescribed punishment, the court may require them to attend therapy or visit a treatment center. Where this is the case, the offender can expect to pay between $25-$100 per program or session.
- Increased Insurance Premiums: Auto insurance providers typically modify their prices to suit each customer's tendencies/inclinations. Repeat DWI offenders will likely experience a hike in the cost of their monthly auto insurance payments.
Other costs accrued to offenders include alternative transportation and a possible 30% decline in wages resulting from their conviction and time spent in court.
How Much is Bail For a DWI in Minnesota?
The cost of bail or bond for a DWI in Minnesota will vary depending on the severity of the charge and the defendant's criminal history. Depending on the situation, bail can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. In some cases, a court may order that the defendant be released on their own recognizance, which means they do not have to post bail.
Motorists who are arrested for a DWI are advised to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to help them understand their rights and the legal process. The legal adviser may negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce or dismiss the charge.
How to Get My License Back After a DWI in Minnesota
After a DWI conviction in Minnesota, the offender's driver's license will be automatically suspended. The length of the suspension will depend on factors such as their blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of arrest, whether they have any previous DWI convictions, and whether they caused any property damage or injuries.
Motorists can have their licenses reinstated following a suspension. To be eligible, they must satisfy the state's requirement for reinstatement, including completing a DWI education program and installing an ignition interlock device on their vehicle.
To apply for a driver's license reinstatement in Minnesota, interested and eligible motorists must complete the following steps:
- Serve the suspension period for the DWI conviction. The length of the suspension will depend on the nature and severity of the offense and the driving history of the motorist.
- Complete a DWI education program.
- Install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
- Pay the applicable reinstatement fee.
- Submit an Application for Reinstatement of Driver's License to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS).
The DPS will review the application and, if approved, will reinstate the motorist's driver's license. Requestors may obtain further information on the application process and what to expect by visiting the DPS website. Alternatively, contact the DWI Education Program at 651-234-7073 for assistance.
How Does a DWI Affect Your Life in Minnesota?
A driving offense in Minnesota can have several different effects on the offender's life. The most obvious is the potential for losing their driver's license. This can make it challenging to get to work, school, or run errands. It can also affect a person's ability to maintain insurance coverage. Another common effect is an increase in insurance premiums. A conviction can also affect a person's ability to get a job, as many employers do background checks. Finally, a driving offense can also lead to criminal charges. If there is an accident involving injury or death, the offender can be charged with a felony. If convicted, the offender can face significant jail time.
Other penalties issued to DWI offenders in Minnesota include attending a DWI class, community service, and an ignition interlock device. The ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer attached to the car and tests the driver's blood alcohol content before starting the vehicle. If the driver's blood alcohol content is over .02, the vehicle will not start.
Can You Get Fired For a DWI in Minnesota?
In most states, a person can get fired after a driving offense. However, it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee for a DWI in Minnesota. There are some exceptions to this law, such as if the DWI conviction was related to work or if the employee was driving a company vehicle. If a Minnesota resident has been fired after a DWI in Minnesota, they may have a claim against their employer, and they can contact an attorney for legal advice.
It is important to note that this law does not protect employees from being fired for other driving offenses, such as DUI or reckless driving. Additionally, the law only applies to private employers, so this statute does not protect public sector employees.
Persons who have been wrongfully terminated from their job due to a DWI may contact an experienced Minnesota employment law attorney to discuss their case. They may be entitled to reinstatement, back pay, and other damages.
How Do I Find DWI Checkpoints in Minnesota?
DWI checkpoints are an essential part of the effort to reduce drunk driving. By stopping drivers who are suspected of intoxication, law enforcement can remove these dangerous motorists from the road. In addition, checkpoints provide a visible deterrent to would-be drunk drivers.
The best way to find DWI checkpoints in Minnesota is to check with local law enforcement agencies. Many agencies will publicize checkpoint locations in advance, either through the news media or on their websites.
Secondly, motorists may check the Minnesota Department of Public Safety website. They often list upcoming DWI checkpoints on their website.
Finally, interested persons may download a DUI checkpoint app for their smartphones. Several apps are available that will alert motorists to upcoming checkpoints in their area.