A driving under the influence arrest -- even a first time one -- is a big deal. Some people think that a first time offense is just a slap on the wrist, but the truth is that even just one DUI can have serious consequences that will affect a person for years to come.
At Dusek Law, we represent those facing DUI charges in both Minnesota and North Dakota. While the laws are different between the two states, the consequences in both are intense. Even for a first time offense, the driver could be looking at fines, license suspension and possible jail time. This is also on top of increased insurance rates.
In general, there are some basics that a driver facing a first time DUI should know, including:
Higher penalties and sanctions for higher blood alcohol contents
According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, if the driver's BAC is under 0.16, a conviction could mean 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. At this alcohol content level, a driver will also lose their driving privileges for 90 days. With the 90 days, though, there are two options:
- Option A: Full driving privileges with an ignition interlock device installed
- Option B: No driving privileges for 15 days, with a limited license for the rest of the 90-day requirement.
Above a 0.16 BAC level, the penalties also increase in Minnesota to a $3,000 fine and/or one-year imprisonment, along with the loss of license for a year or needing an interlock device for one year.
The consequences are slightly different, though, in North Dakota. Here, according to the state's Department of Transportation, a BAC under 0.18 means a driver's license is suspended for 91 days, while above 0.18 leads to a 180-day suspension. Fines are also dependent on different BAC levels, with under 0.16 equaling a $500 fine and above 0.16 equaling a $750 fine with two days imprisonment.
A child in the vehicle greatly increases the consequences in both states
Again, everything is dependent on the BAC of the driver. Under 0.16 in Minnesota -- with a child in the car -- increases the charge to a gross misdemeanor. The criminal consequences are 1 year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine. The administrative sanctions do not increase though, unless the BAC is over 0.16. Then, the driver either loses their license for one year or has the ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle for one year.
In North Dakota, if a minor is in the vehicle -- for a first time DUI -- the driver can end up in jail for one year and/or a $2,000 fine.
You do not have to plead guilty to DUI
Whether the DUI arrest took place in Minnesota or North Dakota, it is important to remember that you have rights, including the right to an attorney to contest the charge. All too often drivers think they should just plead guilty to a first time DUI, not realizing just how severe the consequences could be. Additionally, there are times when the arresting officer has it wrong and the driver is not drunk or the tests to confirm intoxication are handled improperly. This is why it is important for all drivers to know their rights and to talk with an attorney after a DUI arrest.