Minnesota DUI Laws

Minnesota DUI laws distinguish between DUIs and DWIs. There are some important differences to know.

  • DUI – Driving under the influence includes being impaired by drugs, alcohol, or both.
  • DWI – Driving while intoxicated applies when a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above the legal limit of .08%.

That means that even if a blood alcohol test does not show that you are above the legal alcohol limit for driving a motor vehicle, you may still be charged with DUI if you appear to be under the influence of a substance.

It’s important to know that the substance you’re under the influence of does not have to be illegal. You may have taken a prescription medication that causes side effects that impair your driving. That situation can also lead to DUI.

What Is the Legal Limit in Minnesota?

It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in Minnesota if you have a BAC over .08%. You can be charged with a DWI misdemeanor if you test higher than that. Additionally, if your BAC exceeds .16%, you could be charged with an even greater criminal offense that amounts to a gross misdemeanor.

What Motor Vehicles Does a DWI Apply To?

Under Minnesota law, you can get a DUI or DWI while operating any type of motor vehicle. That includes a car, truck, semi-truck, snowmobile, ATV, motorboat, or anything else in the category. If you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you should avoid being in control of any type of motor vehicle.

Minnesota DUI Charges & Penalties

Minnesota divides DUI and DWI charges according to the severity of the BAC level.

If your BAC is between .08% and .16%, then you may be charged with a misdemeanor crime. You may face the following penalties:

  • Up to 90 days in jail
  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • 90 days without driving privileges
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)

In 2015, the Minnesota legislature changed the enhanced DWI law in the state. Prior to that date, you would get increased penalties for a BAC of .20%. Now, if your BAC exceeds .16%, you may face a gross misdemeanor and increased penalties, including:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • Up to $3,000 in fines
  • One year of no driving privileges

Common Defenses for DUI Charges

If you have been arrested and charged with DUI, there is hope. There are defenses you can use to avoid the harshest penalties. You might be able to decrease your charges or get them thrown out altogether in some circumstances.

Some of the best DWI defenses for DUI charges include:

  • The test results for your BAC were faulty
  • There was no basis for the DUI stop in the first place
  • There was an illegal search and seizure
  • The police lacked a basis for a warrant
  • The police did not have probable cause
  • You were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol

How to Avoid Jail Time for DUI Charges

It is possible to avoid jail time for DUI charges. Even if you’re convicted or plead no contest or guilty to DWI, you may be able to avoid jail. There are alternative sentencing options, including:

  • Taking an alcohol education course (DUI school)
  • Taking a driver intervention program (DIP)
  • Taking a driving course
  • Going to drug and/or alcohol rehab
  • Attending a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Program
  • Installing an IID in your vehicle
  • Community service
  • Engaging in a sober living facility
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