According to the most recent Department of Safety publication about DWI trends, the numbers are declining. However, an average of 70 drivers were arrested per day in 2014 for driving while impaired. If you or someone you know is facing a charge of driving while impaired, it’s important to know all you can about DWI laws.
The Legal Limit
In Minnesota, the law considers a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08 grounds for a DWI. That number is reduced to .04 for commercial vehicle drivers. However, persons with lower blood alcohol concentrations can still be subject to an arrest if the officer proves that a driving offense is due to impairment.
Minnesota has an implied consent law. This law requires individuals suspected of driving while impaired to undergo a test measuring blood alcohol concentration. The test is usually a breathalyzer given at the scene. Refusal to take the test is considered a crime and automatically comes with conviction and penalties. Two failed attempts at sufficiently completing a breathalyzer may be considered a refusal to test.
Offenses and Penalties
Penalties for DWI vary depending on the number of previous offenses, the measured level of blood alcohol concentration, the presence of a child in the vehicle, and certain options given to the offender.
A first offense DWI conviction with a blood alcohol concentration below .16 and no child in the vehicle carries a penalty of a 90-day revocation of driving privileges. The court allows the offender a choice between a 15-day period of no driving privileges and a limited license for the remaining 75 days, or full driving privileges for 90 days with use of an ignition interlock. A guilty plea reduces the sentence to a total penalty period of 30 days. If there is a child in the vehicle, the court impounds the vehicle’s plates.
A first offense with a blood alcohol level above .16 means either one year of no driving privileges or one year with an ignition interlock. The court orders plates to be impounded, and if a child is in the vehicle, the vehicle is forfeited.
A Second offense within a ten-year period involves one to two years loss of driving privilege or driving with an ignition interlock, as well as impounded plates and vehicle forfeiture, depending on the severity of the offense. Third and fourth offenses within 10 years carry steeper penalties, and all involve varying degrees of limited or no driving privileges, impounded plates, and vehicle forfeiture.
Along with the above penalties, all offenses come with jail time and/or fees ranging from 90 days and/or a $1,000 fine for the first and least severe offense to 7 years and/or a $14,000 fine for the fourth and most severe offense.
An individual can still be arrested and charged with DWI while sitting in a parked vehicle. When behind the wheel, a person is legally considered in control of the vehicle, even when parked and not running.
Drivers with CDL or commercial licenses, with or without passengers, are subject to temporary loss of driving privileges, license endorsements, and with subsequent offenses permanent revocation of endorsements.
The acceptable blood alcohol concentration level for drivers under the age of 21 is zero.
Those charged with criminal driving offenses resulting in bodily harm or death face sentences ranging from one to ten years in prison and/or $3,000 to $20,000 in fines.
There are many aspects to the laws regarding driving while impaired. To build a good defense, you must be as informed as possible. To build the best defense, call an attorney. A DWI is not always cut and dry. If you are facing charges, we can help. For more information, contact us.
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