How does Minnesota address impaired driving?

The state of Minnesota has very strict penalties for impaired driving offenses including jail time, plate impoundment, loss of driving privileges and more.

Most drivers in Minnesota should know that if they choose to drive a vehicle after consuming alcohol, they could be at risk for an impaired driving offense. It is a fact that stopping for a casual drink on the way home from work with colleagues or having a glass of wine at a holiday family gathering and then driving home is socially acceptable. Nonetheless, the moment a person is stopped for any form of impairment related to these acts, the social view of the person can change.

Even the term " drunk driver" makes it painfully obvious just how difficult life can be for someone facing these charges. In addition to the social stereotype that a person arrested for impaired driving is irresponsible, there are serious penalties to be faced. Understanding these is important for anyone who drives in Minnesota.

Legal limit for intoxication

Minnesota acknowledges a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent as legally intoxicated. However, a driver may be arrested for drunk driving with a BAC below this limit if impairment can be demonstrated. Some penalties may be even harsher for a driver with a blood alcohol content over 0.15 percent.

Misdemeanor and felony charges

A person arrested for driving under the influence may face misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or felony charges. Some of the factors that influence the ultimate charge include the person's BAC at the time of arrest, the existence of any previous drunk driving convictions and whether or not an accident was involved.

Some felony charges can send drivers to prison for as long as 10 years and result in fines as high as $20,000.

Loss of driving privileges

Even a first-time DWI or DUI conviction can find a person losing the right to drive for some time. If the driver's BAC was 0.15 or less and there are no previous convictions on record, the license suspension period may be for 90 days. If the BAC was 0.15 or less but there was even just one prior conviction, the license suspension period may last 12 months.

Use of ignition interlock devices

Some drivers may be eligible to install and use ignition interlock devices in order to regain the ability to drive. All costs for IIDs must be paid by the drivers. Sometimes use of an IID allows full driving privileges but in some cases people may still be limited as to when, where and why they can drive.

Defendants deserve help

People arrested for impaired driving are still people and they deserve the change to a good defense. Talking to an attorney after being charged with drunk driving in Minnesota is recommended as a way of understanding the law and the criminal defense process.