Need to know Minnesota DWI Laws



In Minnesota, you can be convicted of a DWI, or driving while intoxicated, if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeding .08 percent. Minnesota has a zero tolerance policy for drunk driving under the legal age, so if you are younger than 21 years of age, the minimum BAC required to be convicted of a DWI is technically .00 percent.

Minnesota’s Implied Consent Law

Like most states, Minnesota DWI laws include an implied consent law. Simply by driving on a Minnesota road, you have already given your consent to be chemically tested if you are pulled over by an officer who has probable cause to believe you are driving while intoxicated. Therefore, should you refuse to take a chemical test, your driver’s license will be revoked for a period of one year. Consequently, it is best to simply consent to a chemical test.

Penalties for DWI

The first time you are convicted of a DWI in Minnesota, you could serve up to 90 days in jail, but there is no minimum jail time required. You will be subjected to a $1,000 fine, and your driver’s license will be suspended from 90 days to a year, depending on the details of the case. You will also later have to pay hundreds of dollars in fees to have your driver’s license reinstated.

A second conviction for DWI will get you up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $3,000. Your license will be suspended from between 180 to 360 days. Your license plate will be impounded for a year, and you will be issued a special, coded plate instead – the “scarlet letter” of DWI. The same costly fees apply to have your license reinstated.

For a third conviction, most of the same penalties apply as for a second DWI, according to Minnesota DWI laws, except that your license will be indefinitely suspended until you have gone to a treatment program and abstained from alcohol for one year.

Felony DWI

In Minnesota, a fourth DWI conviction, known as a “first-degree DWI,” rises to the level of a felony. You can go to jail for up to seven years and may be required to pay a fine of up to $14,000.

Lookback Period

Previous DWIs will be relevant in your sentencing for a “lookback” period of 10 years. So, if you are convicted of your first DWI in 2020 and of another in 2031, the second conviction will be sentenced as if it were merely a first offense because more than 10 years will have passed between convictions.

Changes in Minnesota DWI Laws

Minnesota DWI laws have grown stricter in recent years. In 2010, Minnesota passed a law requiring drivers convicted of a DWI to have an interlock ignition device installed on their cars. This device prevents the driver from starting the car if he or she does not first pass a breath test. You can refuse to have this device installed, but if you do, your driving rights will be completely revoked for one to six years.

What Is The Legal Alcohol Limit In Minnesota?

In the state of Minnesota, as in the rest of the U.S., the legal alcohol limit is .08 percent. Having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at this level or higher can result in driving while impaired (DWI) charges being filed.

The legal alcohol limit in Minnesota applies to passenger drivers over the age of 21. Additional BAC distinctions are made within DWI statutes to account for other classes of motorists, including:

  • Individuals under 21. People not of legal drinking age can be arrested on DWI charges after registering a BAC above .00 percent, any trace of alcohol legally justifying punishment.
  • Drivers of commercial vehicles. Individuals operating semis, buses and other types of commercial vehicles may be arrested and charged with driving while impaired upon submitting a breath or blood sample that registers .04 percent or greater.

Aggravated DWI offenses typically kick in at a BAC level of .20 percent. A person with this level of alcohol in his or her system may receive enhanced penalties if convicted. Additional factors can contribute to aggravated charges being filed, for instance, driving while impaired with a child under the age of 16.

Ignition Interlock Requirements In Minnesota

An ignition interlock device (IID) is a piece of equipment about the size of a mobile phone that wires into a vehicle. This IID requires a person to provide a passing breath test before vehicle will start.

Ignition interlock devices are used throughout the U.S. to curb DWI-related deaths. In Minnesota:

  • A DWI conviction with a BAC of .16 percent or higher requires IID installation.
  • All people with repeat DWI offenses must have a device installed.

Ignition interlock devices must be put in by a state-approved vendor. All costs related to an IID’s installation and servicing are paid by the convicted individual.

Share this to your friend!

Leave a Comment