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Minnesota Drunk Driving Laws

Minnesota Drunk Driving Laws
As one of the most common factors in auto collisions, drunk drivers not only claim thousands of lives every year, but also injure countless others and cause millions of dollars in property damage. In light of these statistics, lawmakers in all 50 states have enacted legislation to deter motorists from drinking and driving. Along with imposing a number of penalties on those who are convicted of driving while impaired (DWI), these laws outline the behaviors that can lead to a person’s arrest. However, because they often vary from one state to another, it is important for drivers to understand the specific laws in their area—and we’ll start by looking at Minnesota drunk driving laws.

According to research, a person's ability to drive becomes impaired when the amount of alcohol in his or her bloodstream reaches a percentage of 0.08 or higher. Therefore, federal law suggests imposing a 0.08% blood alcohol content limit across all 50 states—and although each state has the right to set its own BAC guidelines, Minnesota lawmakers agree with these recommendations. As a result, it is illegal for any motorist in the state to operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or more.

In addition to enforcing the federal BAC limit, Minnesota law restricts the amount of alcohol underage drivers and commercial vehicle operators can have in their system even further. Under state law, a driver under 21 is deemed impaired once his or her BAC reaches 0.02%, while individuals who operate a commercial vehicle (such as a tow truck, bus, or tractor-trailer) can be charged with DWI with a BAC of 0.04% or higher.

To calculate a driver's BAC, law enforcement rely on chemical testing methods such as breathalyzers and blood or urine tests. If an officer suspects a driver is impaired, a chemical test will be administered in order to determine the suspect’s level of impairment. In Minnesota, it is against the law to refuse to perform this test and, if you fail to comply with the request, you will be charged with a criminal offense—and in some cases, face even harsher penalties than you would have if you had failed the test.

If you are convicted of a first DWI in Minnesota, your penalties may include up to a $1,000 fine, 90-day license suspension, and/or 90-day jail sentence. For a second conviction, these penalties will only increase—with the maximum punishment now including a 180-day license suspension and 1-year jail sentence.

After three convictions, any subsequent DWI charge will be treated as a felony offense—carrying up to a 7-year jail sentence and $14,000 fine, as well as resulting in the permanent loss of your voting rights and eligibility to travel outside of the country and purchase firearms.  And, regardless of whether it’s your first or fourth offense, you will face much harsher penalties if you were travelling with a passenger under 16 at the time of you arrest or had a BAC of 0.16% or more.  

To learn how you can avoid the consequences of a Minnesota DWI conviction, it is important for you to obtain legal representation immediately after your arrest.