Minnesota Drunk Driving Laws

Drunk driving carries some of the harshest penalties for drivers in Minnesota. Drivers can face jail time, fines, and lose their license even if their blood alcohol level is just over the limit. Local courts can treat drunk driving cases in different ways. If you were arrested for drunk driving, talk to a local Minnesota DUI defense attorney for more information about your case.

Minnesota Drunk Driving Laws

Minnesota law defines driving while impaired (DWI) as a person driving, operating, or being in physical control of any vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, with a BAC of .08% or more, or with a BAC of .04% or more for commercial drivers.

Minnesota follows the “not one drop” rule for drivers under 21 years old and imposes special penalties for underage drivers. It is also unlawful to sell or give alcohol to a person under 21.

Implied Consent: Yes

Enhanced Penalties: Prior offenses in the past 10 years; BAC of .16% or more; impaired driving with a child in the vehicle; prior conviction; causing serious bodily injury or death.

There are four degrees of DWI in Minnesota, and each degree has its own criminal penalties:

Fourth-degree DUI is a misdemeanor, for a driver’s first offense with penalties including:

  • Up to 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, a 30-day license suspension or a limited license with an ignition interlock device (IID), community service, and alcohol treatment program attendance. Typically, courts will not make you serve jail time if you follow the terms of probation.

The charge of second or third-degree DUI is a gross misdemeanor. The penalties for a 2nd or 3rd drunk driving arrest can include:

  • Second offense: Up to one year in jail; a $3,000 fine; one-year license suspension; and at least 30 days jail at least 48 hours of which must be served in a local jail. To avoid a jail sentence, the court must find substantial mitigating factors. Drivers may also require an ignition interlock device upon license reinstatement, community service, and alcohol treatment program attendance
  • Third offense: Up to one year in jail, a $3,000 fine, and a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days in jail. The court may lower the term of imprisonment to 60 days of an alcohol treatment program or home detention. 

A first-degree felony occurs if the driver has three previous convictions in the past 10 years, has been previously convicted of a felony DWI, or has a prior felony conviction for vehicular homicide or injury stemming from an impaired driving offense. These penalties include:

  • Up to seven years imprisonment; a $14,000 fine; and mandatory imprisonment for not less than 3 years. The driver also faces a four to six-year license revocation; ignition interlock device upon license reinstatement; plate impoundment; possible vehicle forfeiture; chemical dependency program; and five years of probation.

Defenses to Driving While Under the Influence Charges

There many potential defenses to your drunk driving charge that a Minnesota criminal defense attorney can review. Your defense attorney can challenge the accuracy of chemical breath testing equipment and field sobriety tests. Look for an experienced Minnesota criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the criminal process and is familiar with the prosecutors and judges in your county.

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