In 2012, Minnesota had 133 drunk driving-related fatalities, making up 33 percent of total traffic deaths that year. This is a slight increase from the 109 drunk driving-related fatalities the state had in the previous year. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) continues to urge legislators in the state to enact a law that would require all convicted drunk drivers to install an ignition interlock. Currently, interlocks are only required after third and subsequent offenses and are optional for first- and second-time offenders. MADD also believes sobriety checkpoints in the state could also help decrease drunk driving-related fatalities by 20 percent.
Anyone who operates a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher is guilty of DWI, punishable by a fine, jail time, and driver’s license suspension. The following is a look at the basic maximum consequences for misdemeanor DWIs (1st, 2nd, and 3rd offenses) and felony DWIs (4th and subsequent offenses):
- 1st Conviction: $1,000-$3,000 fine; 90 days to 1 year in jail; 90-day license suspension
- 2nd Conviction: $1,000-$3,000 fine; 90 days to 1 year in jail; 1-year license suspension
- 3rd Conviction: $3,000 fine; 1 year in jail; license cancelled as “inimical to public safety”
- 4th and Subsequent Convictions: $14,000 fine; 7 years in jail; license cancelled as “inimical to public safety”
Second-, third- and fourth-time offenders are also subject to vehicle forfeiture and license plate impoundment.
Consequences increase if a child under the age of 16 was in the vehicle at the time of the offense. A drunk driving offense is elevated to a felony if the offense results in the death or injury of another person. A felony is punishable by up a fine of up to $20,000, up to 10 years in prison, and a 15-year license revocation, depending on the circumstances. For a more detailed look at Minnesota’s DWI laws, see the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s “DWI Consequences” brochure.
Ignition Interlock Laws
In lieu of a license suspension, first-time offenders with a BAC of 0.16 or higher and second-time offenders can install an ignition interlock in their vehicles for 1 to 2 years. First-time offenders with a BAC under 0.16 can also maintain full driving privileges for their suspension period by installing an interlock. However, they also have the option of decreasing their 90-day license suspension to 15 days if they spend the remaining 90 days driving with a limited license.
DWI offenders with three or more offenses are required to install the device for 3 years after a third offense and 4 to 6 years after 4th and subsequent offenses.