Minnesota might get chilly in the winter, but if you decide to head out and warm up with a drink or two, you better appoint a designated driver. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws in Minnesota include criminal penalties, administrative penalties, and ignition interlock devices for first offenses.
DWI penalties in Minnesota are more severe if you injure someone in an alcohol-related crash, have a child in the vehicle with you, or if you have a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If you refuse to submit to a BAC test, you’ll face a driver’s license suspension of up to 1 year with full driving privileges reinstated only if you install an ignition interlock device. You will also be guilty of a Gross Misdemeanor and may spend up to 1 year in jail as well as pay fines up to $3000.
Minnesota DWI laws divide penalties into two categories – criminal penalties and administrative penalties. For a first offense, the following criminal penalties apply:
- If your BAC is under 0.20, you’ll be charged with a Misdemeanor and must spend 90 days in jail and/or pay $1000 in fines
- If you have a BAC of under 0.20 but you have a child in your vehicle upon arrest, you’ll be charged with a Gross Misdemeanor, spend up to 1 year in jail and/or pay $3000 in fines
- If you have a BAC of over 0.20 you’ll be guilty of a Gross Misdemeanor, may spend up to 1 year in jail and/or pay up a $3000 fine. If you have a child in your vehicle upon arrest, you’ll also have to forfeit your vehicle
Administrative penalties for a first DWI offense include:
- If you have a BAC under 0.16 you’ll lose your driver’s license for 90 days, but you have your choice of: 15 days with no driving privileges and a limited license for the rest of the 90-day period, or full driving privileges when you install an ignition interlock. A 90-day suspension can be reduced to 30 days if you plead guilt to DWI
- If you have a BAC of 0.16 and over and you have a child in your vehicle, you’ll lose your driver’s license for one year unless you install an ignition interlock for one full year. Your license plates will be impounded and your vehicle will also be forfeited at time of arrest
Minnesota DWI and ignition interlock laws are designed to keep drinking drivers off the roads. If you’re drinking, the safest option is to always hand over your keys to a sober driver.