DUI Laws in Minnesota

This article provides a comprehensive overview of Minnesota's DUI laws, penalties, and procedures.

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in Minnesota, carrying significant legal consequences. This article provides a comprehensive overview of Minnesota's DUI laws, penalties, and procedures. It aims to offer clear, detailed information sourced from legitimate government resources and official documents.


Driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI) is a criminal offense in Minnesota. The state has stringent laws and penalties to deter impaired driving and ensure public safety. Understanding these laws is crucial for residents and visitors alike.


In Minnesota, the terms DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and DWI (Driving While Impaired) are often used interchangeably. However, DWI is the more commonly used term in Minnesota statutes.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits

Minnesota law sets specific BAC limits to determine impairment:

  • 0.08% for drivers aged 21 and over.
  • 0.04% for commercial vehicle drivers.
  • 0.02% for drivers under 21 (zero tolerance law).

Impairment by Substances Other Than Alcohol

Minnesota's DWI laws also cover impairment by drugs, including prescription medications and illegal substances. Any detectable amount of a Schedule I or II controlled substance (excluding marijuana) in the driver's system can result in a DWI charge.

Minnesota Statutes

The primary statutes governing DUI/DWI offenses in Minnesota are found in Chapter 169A of the Minnesota Statutes. These laws outline the definitions, penalties, and procedures related to impaired driving.

Minnesota's implied consent law (Minn. Stat. § 169A.51) requires drivers to submit to chemical testing (breath, blood, or urine) if an officer has probable cause to believe they are impaired. Refusal to submit to testing can result in additional penalties.

Penalties for DUI/DWI

First Offense

A first-time DWI offense in Minnesota is typically classified as a misdemeanor. Penalties may include:

  • Jail Time: Up to 90 days.
  • Fines: Up to $1,000.
  • License Suspension: 90 days (30 days if the driver pleads guilty).

Second Offense

A second DWI offense within ten years is classified as a gross misdemeanor. Penalties may include:

  • Jail Time: Up to one year.
  • Fines: Up to $3,000.
  • License Suspension: One year.
  • Ignition Interlock Device: Required for reinstatement of driving privileges.

Third Offense

A third DWI offense within ten years is also a gross misdemeanor. Penalties may include:

  • Jail Time: Minimum of 90 days, up to one year.
  • Fines: Up to $3,000.
  • License Cancellation: Three years.
  • Ignition Interlock Device: Required for reinstatement of driving privileges.

Fourth and Subsequent Offenses

A fourth or subsequent DWI offense within ten years is classified as a felony. Penalties may include:

  • Prison Time: Up to seven years.
  • Fines: Up to $14,000.
  • License Cancellation: Four years.
  • Ignition Interlock Device: Required for reinstatement of driving privileges.

Aggravating Factors

Certain factors can elevate the severity of a DWI charge, including:

  • High BAC: A BAC of 0.16% or higher.
  • Child Endangerment: Having a child under 16 in the vehicle.
  • Prior Offenses: Previous DWI convictions within ten years.
  • Driving Without a Valid License: Including driving with a canceled, revoked, or suspended license.

Administrative Penalties

License Revocation

Upon arrest for DWI, the driver's license may be administratively revoked. The duration of the revocation depends on the number of prior offenses and the presence of aggravating factors.

Ignition Interlock Program

Minnesota's Ignition Interlock Device Program allows eligible drivers to regain limited driving privileges by installing an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. The device requires the driver to pass a breath test before the vehicle can start.

Vehicle Forfeiture

In certain cases, such as repeat offenses or high BAC levels, the state may seize and forfeit the offender's vehicle.

Arrest and Booking

When a driver is suspected of DWI, law enforcement officers will conduct field sobriety tests and a preliminary breath test. If the driver fails these tests, they will be arrested and taken to a police station for booking.

Chemical Testing

Under the implied consent law, the driver must submit to chemical testing. Refusal to take the test can result in additional penalties, including license revocation.

Court Proceedings

DWI cases are handled in criminal court. The accused will have an arraignment, pre-trial hearings, and potentially a trial. Legal representation is highly recommended.


If convicted, the court will impose penalties based on the severity of the offense and any aggravating factors. Sentencing may include jail time, fines, and mandatory participation in treatment programs.

Rehabilitation and Treatment

Chemical Dependency Assessment

Offenders may be required to undergo a chemical dependency assessment to determine the extent of their substance use and the need for treatment.

Treatment Programs

Based on the assessment, the court may mandate participation in treatment programs, such as alcohol education classes, outpatient counseling, or inpatient rehabilitation.

Monitoring and Compliance

Offenders may be subject to monitoring through probation, random drug and alcohol testing, and the use of an ignition interlock device.

Impact on Driving Record and Insurance

Driving Record

A DWI conviction will remain on the driver's record for ten years. This can impact future employment opportunities and result in higher insurance premiums.

Insurance Consequences

Insurance companies may increase premiums or cancel policies for drivers with DWI convictions. Offenders may be required to obtain SR-22 insurance, which provides proof of financial responsibility.

Public Defenders

Individuals who cannot afford an attorney may be eligible for representation by a public defender.

Several organizations provide legal assistance to individuals facing DWI charges, including:

Government Resources

For more information on Minnesota's DWI laws, visit the following official resources:

Additional Information on DWI Laws in Minnesota

Minnesota DWI Law

Understanding Minnesota DWI law is crucial for drivers. The statutes outline the specific offenses, penalties, and procedures related to impaired driving.

Minnesota DUI

Although less commonly used than DWI, Minnesota DUI laws are equally stringent and are designed to keep roads safe from impaired drivers.

DWI Violations

DWI violations can lead to severe legal consequences, including license revocation, fines, and imprisonment.

Time DUI Offenders

Repeat DUI offenders face increasingly severe penalties, including longer license suspension periods and mandatory use of ignition interlock devices.

DWI Arrest

A DWI arrest initiates the legal process, which includes chemical testing, booking, and court proceedings.

DWI Penalties

DWI penalties in Minnesota vary based on the severity of the offense and the presence of aggravating factors such as high BAC or child endangerment.

DWI Charge

A DWI charge can have long-term impacts on an individual's driving record, employment prospects, and insurance rates.

Minnesota Statutes

The Minnesota statutes provide a detailed legal framework for DWI offenses, outlining the specific definitions, penalties, and procedures.

Impaired Driving Offenses

Impaired driving offenses encompass a range of situations, including driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other substances that impair the ability to operate a vehicle safely.

Repeat DWI Offenders

Repeat DWI offenders are subject to harsher penalties, including longer jail sentences, higher fines, and extended license revocation periods.

Degree DWI

The degree of a DWI charge in Minnesota can range from misdemeanor to felony, depending on the number of prior offenses and the presence of aggravating factors.

License Revocation Period

The license revocation period for DWI offenses varies based on the severity of the offense and the number of prior convictions.

License Revocation

License revocation is a common administrative penalty for DWI offenses, and regaining driving privileges requires compliance with various legal and administrative requirements.

Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are used by law enforcement officers to assess a driver's impairment. These tests can include balance and coordination exercises.

Blood Alcohol Concentration

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is a key factor in determining impairment and the severity of DWI penalties.

Blood Alcohol Content

Blood alcohol content (BAC) testing measures the amount of alcohol in a person's bloodstream and is used to determine legal intoxication levels.

Minnesota enforces a legal drinking age of 21. Drivers under this age face stricter BAC limits and harsher penalties for any alcohol-related offenses.

Driving Privileges

Maintaining driving privileges after a DWI offense requires compliance with court-ordered programs, including the ignition interlock program.

Vehicle Forfeiture

Vehicle forfeiture can occur in cases of severe DWI offenses or repeat violations, serving as an additional deterrent against impaired driving.

Gross Misdemeanor

A gross misdemeanor is a serious charge that can result from multiple DWI offenses or the presence of aggravating factors.

Alcohol Concentration

Alcohol concentration levels are critical in determining the severity of DWI charges and corresponding penalties.

Driving Record

A DWI conviction impacts a driver's record, which can influence future legal proceedings and insurance rates.

The legal limit for BAC in Minnesota is 0.08% for drivers over 21, 0.04% for commercial drivers, and 0.02% for drivers under 21.

State Law

Minnesota state law provides the legal framework for addressing and penalizing DWI offenses, ensuring road safety and public health.

Ignition Interlock

The ignition interlock program is a crucial component of Minnesota's approach to managing DWI offenders and preventing repeat offenses.

Ignition Interlock Program

Participation in the ignition interlock program allows offenders to regain limited driving privileges while ensuring they remain sober behind the wheel.

Ignition Interlock Device

An ignition interlock device requires the driver to pass a breath test before starting the vehicle, serving as a preventive measure against impaired driving.

Criminal Penalties

DWI offenses carry significant criminal penalties, including fines, imprisonment, and mandatory participation in rehabilitation programs.

Minnesota's implied consent law mandates chemical testing for suspected impaired drivers and imposes penalties for test refusal.

The consent law ensures that drivers understand their obligation to submit to chemical testing when suspected of DWI.

Jail Time

Jail time for DWI offenses varies based on the severity of the charge and the presence of aggravating factors.

Administrative Penalties

Administrative penalties, such as license revocation, are imposed by the Department of Public Safety and are separate from criminal penalties.

Administrative Sanctions

Administrative sanctions are additional penalties imposed on DWI offenders, including license revocation and vehicle forfeiture.

Test Refusal

Refusing a chemical test can result in immediate license revocation and additional legal penalties.

Commercial Drivers

Commercial drivers are subject to stricter BAC limits and face severe penalties for DWI offenses, including loss of commercial driving privileges.

Breath Test

Breath tests are commonly used to measure BAC and are a key component of the chemical testing process.

Motor Vehicles

Motor vehicle operation under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious offense with significant legal consequences.

Motor Vehicle

Operating a motor vehicle while impaired is a criminal offense that carries severe penalties in Minnesota.

Law enforcement officers provide an implied consent advisory to inform drivers of their obligation to submit to chemical testing.

Public Safety

Minnesota's DWI laws aim to protect public safety by deterring impaired driving and imposing strict penalties on offenders.

Plate Impoundment Order

In some cases, DWI offenders may face plate impoundment orders, preventing them from legally driving the vehicle involved in the offense.

Aggravating Factors

Aggravating factors, such as high BAC or child endangerment, can elevate the severity of DWI charges and penalties.

Community Work Service

Community work service may be required as part of the sentencing for DWI offenses, providing a means for offenders to give back to the community.

Hazardous Substance

Driving under the influence of a hazardous substance, including certain drugs, is treated with the same severity as alcohol-related DWI offenses.

Physical Control

Physical control of a vehicle while impaired can result in DWI charges, even if the vehicle is not in motion.

Electronic Home Monitoring

Electronic home monitoring may be used as an alternative to jail time for certain DWI offenders, allowing them to serve their sentence at home.

Chemical Test

Chemical tests, including breath, blood, and urine tests, are used to determine a driver's BAC and are a critical part of DWI enforcement.

Hire an Experienced Attorney

Hiring an experienced attorney is crucial for those facing DWI charges, as legal expertise can significantly impact the outcome of the case.


Minnesota's DUI/DWI laws are designed to promote public safety and deter impaired driving. Understanding these laws, the associated penalties, and the legal procedures can help individuals navigate the complexities of a DWI charge. For those facing such charges, seeking legal assistance and complying with court-mandated programs is crucial for mitigating the impact on their lives and driving privileges.

By integrating these additional sections and keywords, this article provides a thorough and cohesive overview of DUI/DWI laws in Minnesota, helping readers understand the serious nature of these offenses and the importance of adhering to state laws.

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