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Minnesota DWI Laws

Minnesota's Driving While Intoxicated Laws

Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) is a crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The consequences of an arrest for this crime are twofold: criminal and administrative. The severity of each sanction will depend on a number of factors including how egregious the current offense is, as well as a person's past criminal history.

In Minnesota, the actual crime is known as "driving while intoxicated" (DWI) and applies when a person is operating, or is in physical control, of a motor vehicle while:

  • Under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a combination of the two
  • Having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher within two hours of driving

Other Prohibited Behaviors

You can also be in violation of Minnesota's DWI laws by having any amount of a schedule I or schedule II controlled substance in your body at the time of driving. There are also special rules for commercial drivers, making the blood alcohol level even lower at 0.04 percent at the time of driving. Why? Because an impaired commercial driver, such as a truck driver with a full tank of gasoline or a bus driver carrying school children, poses a serious threat to public safety.

Specific Administrative Penalties

If facing jail time isn't enough of a deterrent, the harsh administrative penalties associated with a DWI arrest and/or conviction should be enough to make a person think twice about driving while under the influence. There are three main penalties that can impact your ability to legally drive your car, motorcycle, or other forms of transportation. Under certain circumstances, the following penalties can be imposed on a driver:

License Plate Impoundments: 
Certain offenders will have their license plate physically seized by law enforcement or he or she must surrender the plates. This applies to any vehicle the offender owns or operates, whether alone or jointly.
Vehicle Forfeiture: 
The offender's vehicle may be subject to complete forfeiture if the car or motorcycle was used in the commission of a "designated offense," such as a third DWI conviction within a ten-year period.
Driver's License Suspension or Revocation:
A driver's license will be automatically suspended upon a DWI arrest, however in most circumstances a person is given a seven-day temporary license to drive before the suspension goes into effect. A driver may be able to successfully appeal the license suspension in some situations.

These charts lay out the basics of Minnesota's DWI laws:

Minnesota DWI Laws: Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits and Implied Consent

"Per Se" BAC Limit 0.08 Percent
Zero Tolerance (Underage) BAC Limit 0.00 Percent
Enhanced Penalty (Aggravated) BAC Limit 0.16
Implied Consent to Submit to BAC Test? Yes

Minnesota DWI Laws: Select Penalties

Minimum License Suspension or Revocation (1st, 2nd, 3rd offense) 90 days (180 if under age 21)/ 1 year / 3 years minimum
Mandatory Alcohol Education, Assessment and Treatment Yes
Vehicle Confiscation Possible? Yes
Ignition Interlock Device Possible? Yes

Minnesota DWI Resources:

Minnesota DWI Statute: 
Driving While Impaired (Mn. Stat. 169A.20); DWI Ignition Interlock (Mn. Stat. 171.306); DWI Penalties (Mn. Stat. 169A.54).
Overview of Minnesota's DWI Laws:
[PDF] - Detailed breakdown of Minnesota's DWI offenses, penalties and process (Minnesota House of Representatives).
Minnesota DWI EZGuide:
[PDF] - Handy pamphlet summarizing Minnesota's DWI laws, including BAC test refusal penalties (Minn. Dept. Public Safety).

Get Help With Your Case From a Minnesota DWI Attorney 

Under Minnesota law, the penalties associated with a DWI conviction can be severe and should always be taken seriously. If you or someone you know has been arrested for a DWI, you should seek the legal assistance you need to ensure you have the best shot at winning your case. Get started today by contacting a Minnesota drunk driving attorney near you.

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